December 23 , 2016 / 6 minutes, 14 seconds


Author: Annette K. Scott


The Japanese term “wabi-sabi” represents a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.  It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three markers of existence; specifically, impermanence, suffering, and emptiness or absence of self-nature.  You don’t have to be a Buddhist or even understand Buddhism to grasp this concept. 

One first must understand who they are before they can make sense of their actions and the ebb and flow of life.  German born developmental psychologist Erik Erickson named the eight stages of development in 1956 and is most famous for coining the phrase “identity crisis”.  Erikson asserted that favorable outcomes in each stage are virtues and that a person must hold both extremes of each life stage; not rejecting one or the other.  Each stage is a psychosocial crisis which arises and demands resolution before the next stage can be satisfactorily negotiated. 

The 8 stages are as follows:

1.    Learning basic trust vs. basic mistrust (hope)-Infancy through 18 months-If the child is well handled, nurtured, and loved they develop trust, security, and basic optimism.  The maternal relationship has a lot to do with this stage and if handled poorly the child becomes insecure and mistrustful.

2.    Learning autonomy vs. shame (will)-18 months-4 yrs old-The child discovers the beginnings of his or her independence, and parents must facilitate the child’s sense of doing basic tasks by themselves.  Discouragement can lead to the child doubting his or her efficacy.

3.    Learning initiative vs. guilt (purpose)-3-6 yrs old-If the child doesn’t have the ability to do things on their own they’re feeling guilty about making his or her choices.

4.    Industry vs. inferiority (competence)-6-11 yrs old-Child comparing self-worth to others and can recognize major disparities in personal abilities.  Erikson places emphasis on the teacher here.

5.    Learning identity vs. identity diffusion (fidelity)-13-20 yrs old-Questioning of self, who am I, where do I fit in, where am I going in life?  If the parents allow the child to explore they will conclude their own identity.  However, if the parents continually push him/her to conform to their own views, the teen will face identity confusion.

6.    Learning intimacy vs. isolation (love)-18-35 yrs old-By successfully forming loving relationships with other people, individuals can experience intimacy and love.  Those who fail to form lasting relationships may feel isolated and alone.

7.    Learning generativity vs. self-absorption (care)-35-64 yrs old-A person is either making progress in their career or treading lightly in their career and unsure if this is what they want to do for the rest of their working lives. Also during this time, a person is enjoying raising their children and participating in activities, that gives them a sense of purpose. If a person is not comfortable with the way their life is progressing, they’re usually regretful about the decisions that they have made in the past and feel a sense of uselessness.

8.    Integrity vs. despair (wisdom)-65 yrs & older-If the other seven psychosocial crises have been resolved, the mature adult develops the peak of adjustment; integrity.  He trusts, he is independent and dares the new.  He works hard, has found a well-defined role in life, and has developed a self-concept with which he is happy.  He can be intimate without strain, guilt, regret, or lack of realism; and he is proud of what he creates-children, work, hobbies.  If one or more of the earlier psychosocial crisis have not been resolved, he may view himself and his life with disgust and despair. 

Erikson’s concept of development is just one concept, you may adhere and agree to it or not.  Whether you do or not, there is certainly an argument that without hitting certain milestones that we come upon as we mature, life can be erratic and confusing.  The milestones may be thwarted at any point for such reasons as poor parenting due to abuse or addictions, unsafe environment, unhealthy mentors.  At some point as we move into chronological maturity we then possess the power to alter the damage that was done in childhood and influence our psycho-emotional wellbeing.  As we have a deeper understanding of ourselves we can then practice concepts such as wabi sabi and maintain a peaceful internal and external environment.

Written by Kristen Carla Blogger/Acupuncture Physician/Model Scout

Kodawari Studios 3965 S. Henderson Ave., Suite C, Tampa, Fl 33629


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