Ego Integrity versus Despair

EgoIntegrity versus Despair


Universityof Texas Arlington

EgoIntegrity versus Despair

InErik Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development, the eighth andfinal stage is . It starts at the age of65 until the end of one’s life. At the onset of old age,individuals are inclined to look back at their life and evaluate thefailures, regrets, and accomplishments. At this point, a personconcludes if their life is meaningful or otherwise.

Accordingto Erickson, integrated individuals find meaning in their lives,process their failures, regrets, and accomplishments as part of lifeand what shaped their character. They can talk about regrets andfailures without being overwhelmed, and they accept any shortcomingsthey had as part of life. Such individuals are proud of theiraccomplishments, which boost their self-esteem (Scott &amp DeBrew,2009). They can explain the main influences that formed theircharacter (Hearn et al., 2012). Besides, they accept the failure toachieve their expectations in life, and they feel contented with theoutcome. Therefore, they tend to surround themselves with family,friends, and community who are happy with their experiences andachievements in life. Furthermore, they are not afraid to face death(Hearn et al., 2012).

Onthe other hand, there are those individuals who feel despair whenthey reach their sixties. According to Giblin, despair is theunchallenged acceptance of negativity (2011). Such individuals arenot satisfied with their life and often have many regrets. They feellike they lost many opportunities in life, and this makes them sadand depressed. Other behavioral dispositions include denying theirfailures and regrets, hopelessness, feeling like it is too late tomake anything out of life, and lack of meaning in life. Consequently,their dissatisfaction makes them desperate, afraid to face death, andthey isolate themselves from their friends, family, and thecommunity.

Asa professional nurse, I would encourage older adults to share theirlife experiences from childhood, adolescent, job, and family lifethrough storytelling. By doing so, they would remember theiraccomplishments, difficulties, failures, regrets, which can help themto reframe negative thoughts. Besides, life review among older adultshas been found to improve self-esteem and integrating storytelling asan intervention has been proven beneficial (Scott &amp DeBrew,2009). Hence, helping the older adults feel satisfied with theirachievements and gain self-esteem.


Giblin,J. C. (2011). Successful Aging: Choosing Wisdom over Despair. Journalof Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services,49(3), 23. Doi: 10.3928/02793695-20110208-01

Hearn,S., Saulnier, G., Strayer, J., Glenham, M., Koopman, R., &ampMarcia, J. E. (2012). Between Integrity and Despair: Toward ConstructValidation of Erikson’s Eighth Stage. Journalof Adult Development,19(1), 1-20. Doi: 10.1007/s10804-011-9126-y

Scott,K., &amp DeBrew, J. K. (2009). Helping Older Adults Find Meaning andPurpose through Storytelling. Journalof Gerontological Nursing,35(12), 38-43. Doi: 10.3928/00989134-20091103-03