Erikson’s theory of human development is discussed with particular emphasis on the feasibility of attaining the eighth stage. The question is raised as to whether most elderly individuals resolve the last major crisis involving integrity and despair, and emerge with the concomitant virtue of widsom. After examining the basic tenets of Erikson’s model and relating it to other organismic theories of development, it is concluded that most individuals either seek foreclosure or enter prolonged moratoriums after adolescence, never reaching the last stage of the life cycle. Therefore, compromise rather than complete resolution between conflicting forces at each major life crisis seems the common and most realistic, though insufficient, approach for attainment of the last stage of development.

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