This paper is an examination of adolescence, using two approaches - Jean Piaget's theories of cognitive development and Erik Erikson's theories of the stages of psychosocial development - to analyze the case study of the author's development to date. These two approaches consider the processes which form personality and the development of thought during the period when the individual is growing into young adulthood. Because the subject is 18 and therefore in the middle of this transition, this analysis considers the changes which have already occurred and speculates on the developments that are likely to happen over the next few years.
Adolescence is defined in a number of ways, often using age-related benchmarks to define its onset and its various stages of progression. Both Piaget and Erikson avoid assigning specific ages to specific steps of development, recognizing that the process is individual and dependent on the achievement of previous steps. Because the subject of this paper is not typical, having advanced more rapidly than most of his peers through school and having had to assume adult responsibilities early in his life, these two theoretical approaches offer a more valuable means of analyzing his progress than do theories that adhere more closely to specific ages. Both approaches focus on cognitive and psychosocial development benchmarks that, in this case, appear to offer more a effective means of analysis.
The subject is an 18-year-old male, an only child, who was abandoned by his mother when he was 8, well before the onset of adolescence. His father is physically disabled, a fact which has helped to bond father and son even more closely, encouraging the son to take on increasingly adult responsibilities while still a child.
The son's accelerated development has also been motivated by his advanced academic progress. He has skipped several grades and begun college studies more than two years ahead of his ...