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Analysis of Erikson’s Theory of Ego Integrity Vs. Despair

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As the older adult goes through life, they may begin to think about how they lived their lives and was it worthwhile. In the next paragraphs I will summarize Erikson’s theory of ego integrity vs. despair in the older adult. This is the last stage of eight that I would describe as an overview of life through the eyes of an adult in late adulthood. When an individual reaches the age of 65 to the time of death they are considered to be in the final stage ego integrity vs. despair (Cherry, 2018). This is the last stage, where if asked the older adult will be able to tell you how they viewed the life they lived. Some will be satisfied with the choices they made and the outcomes, while others will wish to “turn back the hands of time”. This stage is not the easiest stage, because some may find it too challenging to cope with things they cannot change.

The utmost goal is to overcome the last stage and achieve wisdom. Having the feeling that most of the right choices were made, does not mean you had a perfect life. It just means you feel at peace with where you are as you come closer to death. I have had some experiences with both sides, when I worked in hospice. It is truly wonderful, when your patient tells you not to worry about them because they lived a good life. I have also had patients tell me not to make the same mistakes they did, because you can’t take it back. “As individuals approach death, they are confronted by their assessment of their life as a whole and their acceptance of the person they have become” (Goodcase, Love, 2017). It’s important to note, that each and every person will have a different view on this.

Erikson looks at your progression across the lifespan. With ego integrity, the older adults tend to be pleased with their achievements even with some up and downs. They will enter the last phase more content or even feeling like they accomplished a lot. I see this lot in my own parents, who often tell me that they are happy with their choice to move to Florida. In contrast, older adults who experience despair are displeased with how their life choices turned out.


  1. Cherry, K., (2018). Integrity vs. despair: psychosocial development. Retrieved from
  2. Goodcase E.T., & Love, H.A. (2017). From despair to integrity: Using narrative therapy for older individuals in erikson’s last stage of identity development. Clinical Social Work Journal, 45(4), 354, doi:10.1007/s10615-016-0601-6
  3. Perry, T. E., Ruggiano, N., Shtompel, N., & Hassevoort, L. (2014). Applying erikson’s wisdom to self-management practices of older adults. Research on Aging, 37(3), 253-274. doi:10.1177/0164027514527974

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