Desperate Times & Erikson

Children's Court, Albion Street, Sydney

You Have requested more information about the incidence of personal conflict and the desperate times experienced in human relationships. It is hoped that this post may answer your queries. Initially, this post identifies the problems and causes of domestic violence and desertion. Erik Erikson provides a theory about the ways we can avoid the incidence of conflict in personal relationships.

Domestic Violence and Family Desertion

In the absence of documentation or actual court records it is often difficult to determine why domestic violence or the desertion of family members occur. Some, but not all relationships involve spouse abuse, financial deprivation and separation.

In the first half of the 20th Century the New South Wales Children’s Court was actively involved in domestic violence and wife desertion. However the back story regarding domestic violence and assault of spouses (sometimes children) or separation and desertion is not always available. Often, it is not possible to offer any specific comments. 

The cause of breakdown in personal relationships is often unknown, but it usually involves:

  • physical violence;
  • spouse desertion;
  • reluctance to pay maintenance Vs. inability to pay; and,
  • maintenance of more than one household and/or family
Left Picture: Sydney, ...cramped terrace house, Redfern, 1949, this lady lived with three other families in a cramped situation having recently had a new baby arrival and asked a passing photographer to document her situation. She had just been given a eviction notice.The photo featured in a magazine brought out by the Daily Telegraph. Right Picture: Shoeless girl in Sydney backyard. Source Unknown
Erik Erikson – Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development

Erikson states that every one of us has their own unique identity. This identity consists of personality traits that can be considered positive or negative. To try and understand these dynamics I recommend that you refer to the sixth of Erik Erikson’s eight stages of psychosocial development as listed below:

  1. Stage One – Trust vs Mistrust
  2. Stage Two – Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt
  3. Stage Three – Initiative vs Guilt
  4. Stage Four – Industry vs Inferiority
  5. Stage Five – Identity vs Role Confusion
  6. Stage Six – Intimacy vs Isolation
  7. Stage Seven – Generativity versus Stagnation
  8. Stage Eight – Ego Integrity vs Despair

These personality traits vary between people based on the degree of influence that the environment has on each individual. As human beings, we possess many characteristics that eventually define who we are.

Stage Six – Intimacy vs Isolation

According to Erikson, this stage involves the development and achievement of either Intimacy or Isolation. Intimacy requires long term commitments to others; warm and mutual connections; and, willingness to sacrifice and compromise. This is the stage of adult development.

Development of stage six usually happens during young adulthood, which is between the ages of 18 to 40. Dating, marriage, family and friendships are important during this stage in their life causing an increase in the growth of intimate relationships with others. By successfully forming loving relationships with other people, individuals are able to experience love and intimacy. They also feel safety, care, and commitment in these relationships.

  • Virtue = Love & Affection

Those who fail to form lasting relationships may feel isolated and alone. Isolation includes being unable to form intimate relationships for various reasons; breaking up; painful experiences; and, negative outcomes including “promiscuity” and “exclusivity”.

  • Promiscuity = Sexual Need & Vulnerable
  • Exclusivity = Cold & Self-Contained Loner

To summarise, it is difficult to determine why domestic violence or the desertion of family members may or may not occur. When it does happen, we can only acknowledge the facts as they are presented in historical family history documentation.

Do you recognise any of our unknown relatives?

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