Erikson and the stage of integrity vs despair

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    Erikson says that older adulthood is a time for reviewing
    the past and rearranging the "photo album of life"

    just my question as I read this:

    - what does rearranging the photo album of life really mean?

    My thoughts are - remember things the way that you want to
    remember them. What needs to be rearranged? Unless there
    has been unhappiness, that the person would like to have
    different thoughts about, or would just prefer to forget.

    (in my own case, I don't want to review the past)
    Last edit by GingerSue on May 14, '07
  2. 16 Comments so far...

  3. 0
    Quote from gingersue
    erikson says that older adulthood is a time for reviewing
    the past and rearranging the "photo album of life"

    just my question as i read this:

    - what does rearranging the photo album of life really mean?

    my thoughts are - remember things the way that you want to
    remember them. what needs to be rearranged? unless there
    has been unhappiness, that the person would like to have
    different thoughts about, or would just prefer to forget.

    (in my own case, i don't want to review the past)
    ginger, i just finished life-span development for the second time, with the first time being twelve years ago. i have never heard the phrase "rearranging the photo album of life". is that directly from a book, or a quote from your instructor? i'm not going to directly quote my book because of copyright laws (which may or may not apply, but i don't want this comment to get blocked), but it says that what erikson meant by that was that the person either pieces together a positive review of his/her life, or concludes that life has not been spent well. i have never heard anyone refer to it as "rearranging", only reviewing. hope this helps.
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    I agree, I too, just got through finishing up Life Span Development and have never heard of that phrase.

    What integrity in Erickson's theory means, is a look back at your life. It's a time for you to review what you have done, and the key thing, is if you have felt that you have given back sufficiently and are able to pass on to the next generation.

    Erickson believed that this is much more difficult for people without children and that are single, vs those that are married and have a family.

    If you look back at your life (it's formally called a life-review), and see only mistakes, and a longing for a do-over, and cannot get past this...then you fall into despair.

    Robert Peck, look him up as well, he had some things to add to that part of Erickson's theory.

    Good luck!
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    Many years ago in nursing school, we looked at Integrity vs. Despair, as how happy and complete the person felt at the end of their productive years . Had they accomplished the goals they set for themselves in life, and were they content, or did they wish things had been different, and they could have done more, or been a better person. It involves, family, vocation, religion, etc. As people face their own mortality, they often relfect on their past. Therefore, they move on with contentment and integrity, or become depressed, and disatisfied , and in despair, because they did not accomplish in life what they thought they should have. It can be in only one area or multiple
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    thanks

    it was that phrase "rearranging the photo album of life" that I wondered about - this author has it in quotes.
    Wasn't sure what the phrase meant.
    Maybe it wasn't a phrase used by Erikson?

    The stage itself is about the person accepting death with a sense of a life well-lived, rather than a sense of despair because of missed opportunities and wrong directions

    To rearrange the "photo album of life" - what is this author trying to say? Is it about being able to look back on those missed opportunities and being able to view them differently?

    About Peck - yes I also read a small section about Peck's theory of older adult development (middle and older) and liked what I read - wisdom versus physical power, socializing, emotional and mental flexibility, ego differentiation, body and ego transcendence.
    Last edit by GingerSue on May 15, '07
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    I was sitting for a 92-year-old patient on Sunday after she had spent the night in restraints. She was hyperverbal and very sweet. I basically listened to her life story for 12 hours, and I was definitely thinking about Erikson's life stages.

    Her stories focused heavily on her childhood and how happy she was growing up. She later married and had two children, and even though her husband and children had all since passed away, her stories barely touched on her children. She didn't say anything negative about them at all, but they just weren't a focus.

    I thought this was interesting... in a 12-hour life review, wouldn't you think your stories would focus more on your own children than your childhood? (Not that I made any comments about it, of course.) Perhaps this is an example of "rearranging the photo album of life."

    In any case, my own mother lives in Georgia, and since it wasn't possible for me to spend Mother's Day with her, it was a pleasure to spend the day with this patient. She said over and over how glad she was that I was there and how much calmer and less lonely she felt. That made me feel really good.
  8. 0
    Quote from Meloney
    I was sitting for a 92-year-old patient on Sunday after she had spent the night in restraints. She was hyperverbal and very sweet. I basically listened to her life story for 12 hours, and I was definitely thinking about Erikson's life stages.

    Her stories focused heavily on her childhood and how happy she was growing up. She later married and had two children, and even though her husband and children had all since passed away, her stories barely touched on her children. She didn't say anything negative about them at all, but they just weren't a focus.

    I thought this was interesting... in a 12-hour life review, wouldn't you think your stories would focus more on your own children than your childhood? (Not that I made any comments about it, of course.) Perhaps this is an example of "rearranging the photo album of life."

    In any case, my own mother lives in Georgia, and since it wasn't possible for me to spend Mother's Day with her, it was a pleasure to spend the day with this patient. She said over and over how glad she was that I was there and how much calmer and less lonely she felt. That made me feel really good.
    Wow, what an incredible experience. It's amazing what an older person will tell you if the opportunity presents itself.

    I just wonder if her relationship with her children was strained, and not good, therefore, it was better for her not to think about them.

    How sad.
  9. 0
    Quote from Hopefull2009
    .

    I just wonder if her relationship with her children was strained, and not good, therefore, it was better for her not to think about them.

    How sad.
    Or perhaps thinking and speaking of her deceased children was too painful a reminder of her loss?
  10. 0
    Quote from Meloney
    I
    I thought this was interesting... in a 12-hour life review, wouldn't you think your stories would focus more on your own children than your childhood? (Not that I made any comments about it, of course.) Perhaps this is an example of "rearranging the photo album of life."
    Good question ...
    Perhaps it's wrong to assume that everyone puts so much emphasis on their children (or should put so much emphasis on their children.) A person's life is much more than just their role as parents. I think it is quite understandable that when we reflect back on our lives, many of us may well focus on our entire lives and not just on our role as a parent -- where we came from, the generations that came before us, our parents, our role as children, grandchildren, siblings, etc. how we developed into adolescence and adulthood, our work lives, our friendships, etc.

    The idea that we are or should be focused on our children and our roles as parents is really a very particular cultural belief that may not be universal. Not everyone defines themselves or their lives in terms of their children.
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    I'm watching my parents in this stage of life. And I think my Dad has the right idea. He's been reflecting on his life, and in the places he feels like he messed up he has gone to the people he thinks he hurt and has apologized, or tried to make things right. He is becoming a wise and gentle man. On the other hand my mother is in denial. Anything that she did that hurt other people she no longer 'remembers'. Her remembered past is beginning to warp badly from what it really was. And she is becoming an unhappy, angry woman.

    To me they are the perfect illustration of Erikson's theory.


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