Freud and Erikson

This first paper is going to be about a case study on a 7 year old kid named Gary. Gary is wheelchair bound and has Muscular Dystrophy and has been home-schooled until now. He seemed to be doing fine in school, but he has been crying after school and not wanting to go monday mornings. We have to try and figure out why Gary is feeling this way. I will be using and comparing Erikson’s Psychological Theory and Maslows Hierarchy of Needs to analyze why the case study subject might be acting this way.
Erikson’s Psychological Theory is based around Freuds’s Stages of Development, but with further stages and not always based around sex and aggression like Freud uses. Erikson’s Theory contains eight stages: Trust v. mistrust (birth to two years of age), autonomy v. shame/ doubt (two to four years), initiative v. guilt (four to six years), industry v. inferiority/ diffusion (six to twelve years), identity v. identity confusion (adolescence), intimacy v. isolation (young adulthood), generatively v. tagnation (middle adulthood), and ego integrity v. despair (late adulthood to death).
The first four stages match up pretty well with Freud’s Theory’s stages, with an additional four stages about adulthood at the end. Two big things about Erikson’s Theory is that success builds on previous stages and that failure is cumulative (Morrison, lecture, 2011). I can apply Erikson’s Theory to the case study with Gary in a couple of ways. The first observation I can make is that Gary is his wetting the bed problem.

If he hasn’t done it in years, why is he doing it now? Gary has probably failed to succeed in the autonomy v. shame stage of development. It doesn’t say how long Gary has been in a wheelchair, but my guess is quite awhile. Even if it was after his toilet training years, he had to re-learn how to go by himself when he was given a wheelchair. This might have gone smoothly when he was at home with the help of his loving and supportive parents, but he probably doesn’t trust in teachers or aids to help him if he needs it.
He feels ashamed of himself for not being able to go flawlessly like at home, and these feelings of shame are causing other problems in school also. This GREATLY affects his self esteem levels and disturbs the rest of his school life. Another angle of looking at Gary’s problems is he isn’t succeeding in the industry v. inferiority stage. This stage is about learning in school and communicating and is a very social stage (Morrison, lecture, 2011).
SInce Gary is in a wheelchair, he can’t participate in regular activities in P. E. classes. He has to have adaptive P. E. based on him not being able to walk. Watching the other kids playing on the basketball courts and playing football and stuff leaves him feeling left out. He isn’t building skills for a teamwork mentality like everybody else. He feels left out of the fun and probably puts himself lower than the rest of his peers. This would greatly hurt his self-esteem and competence. This could be an explanation for him crying after school and just not wanting to go Sunday nights.
Although Erikson’s Psychological Theory can explain Gary’s problems in terms of missed of problems in developmental stages, Maslow can explain them more generically with his Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs has five stages, starting with the most primitive working towards more finite: biological and physiological needs (food, water, shelter, warmth), safety needs (protection and security), belonging and love needs (family, affection, relationships), esteem needs (achievement, status, responsibility), and self- actualization (personal growth) (Morrison, lecture, 2011).
Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I can analyze Gary and determine that it seems as if Gary isn’t fulfilling his esteem needs. He seems to have a low self esteem and a low sense of accomplishment. This is probably because he can’t do the same P. E. activities as the rest of the kids. Just being around a lot of kids that can walk and do things he can’t is probably the main reason for his sadness and not wanting to go to school. When he was at home all day, he had his parents to comfort him if he ever had questions about other kids.
His parents might have actually over protected him, as in Gary wasn’t prepared to go to public school because his parents sheltered him from the truth of the real world and wasn’t ready for it. Since Gary is having trouble with his esteem needs, he cannot feel accomplished and move on to his self- actualization needs. He can’t grow as a person until the lower level needs are met. There are a lot of theories that people can use when analyzing peoples’ problems.
But looking at Gary’s problems, Erikson’s Psychological Theory and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs were the ones I felt like could explain why Gary is having problems the best. Not every theory is applicable to every situation. These two theories made sense to me and I believe explained his problems the best out of all of the theories we have looked at in class. Between the two I used, I believe Erikson’s Psychological Theory explains it better than Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but they both have some good points in this case study.

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