Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

2011 Edition
| Editors: Sam Goldstein, Jack A. Naglieri

Intimacy Versus Isolation (Erikson’s Young Adult Stage)

  • Gregory C. EllisonII
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-79061-9_1535


“When childhood and youth come to an end, life, so the saying goes, begins” ([4], p. 100). According to Erik Erikson, the young adult’s life begins with the development of intimacy, the capacity to commit oneself “to concrete affiliations and partnerships and to develop the ethical strength to abide by such commitments, even though they may call for significant sacrifices and compromises” ([1], p. 263). Intimacy requires a firmness of ego strength or identity formation, as a central feature of Erikson’s sixth stage is the ability to find oneself by losing oneself in another. Erikson is careful to not limit intimacy to affiliations of a sexual nature, but also includes friendship, combat, and inspiration as potential sites for intimate encounters.


In the third chapter of Identity, Youth and Crisis, Erikson individually introduces and explains each of the first five stages of the life cycle (from infancy to adolescence). However, the three succeeding adulthood...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Erikson, E. H. (1963). Childhood and Society. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Erikson, E. H. (1964). Insight and responsibility: Lectures on the ethical implications of psychoanalytic insight. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity, youth and crisis. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Erikson, E. H. (1980). Identity and the life cycle. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Stevens, R. (1983). Erik Erikson: An introduction. New York: St. Martins Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory C. EllisonII
    • 1
  1. 1.Candler School of TheologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA