Both intimacy and isolation are personality issues. Therefore, before comparing and contrasting, it is pertinent to know about Erikson’s Theory of Psychological Development. According to him, human life evolves through eight specific stages that contribute to your psychological and emotional health and consequent pain or pleasure.
In this regard, the inner conflicts play critical roles. Conflicts arise at each stage of development. This psychological crisis is vulnerable, but also provides strength for achieving success or meeting failure.
The following are the eight stages
- Trust versus mistrust arises in the earliest childhood.
- Autonomy versus shame and doubt
- Initiative versus guilt
- Industry versus inferiority emerges due to peer play
- Identity versus role confusion emerges during teen ages
- Intimacy versus isolation. This different stage emerges during early adulthood, mainly out of romantic attachment. Those who succeed in developing strong and lasting relationships retain intimacy, but those who fail to feel isolated.
- Generativity versus stagnation involves accomplishment such as supporting the family, volunteering in the community, and succeeding in work. This is the stage of middle adulthood.
- Integrity versus despair is the conflict in which older people look back and appreciate their wisdom. Those who could not achieve regret for their failure
Intimacy versus Isolation – Stage!
This is the 6th stage of Erikson’s Theory and takes place during the ages of about 19 and 40. The person encounters conflicts in establishing an intimate and loving relationship with others who may be of any sex. Mostly, it is a romantic relationship. Erikson described closeness, love, and intimate relationships as the essential elements of intimate relationships.
There are two aspects of this conflict. Success implies deep and healthy romantic relationships with a love partner and a close relationship with family and friends. Failure manifests intimacy, poor romantic relationships and isolation, and loneliness outwardly.
Important Tasks at this Stage
The most crucial task for retaining intimacy is to be open and sharing the feelings and emotions with the loved person with transparency and sincerity. The following are the other tasks that need to be pursued to succeed in retaining the intimacy.
- You are maintaining a strong sense of self-identity while sharing your self with others.
- You are forging emotional intimacy and closeness, without necessarily having a physical or sexual closeness. You can get intimacy from friends and other loved ones.
- When you make any commitment to your loved ones, be very sure that you can fulfill the same. Any failure in adhering to commitment leads to misunderstanding, communication gaps, and fidelity issues, which may ultimately mar the relationship.
- Caring for the other person’s emotions as well as physical needs, play an important role in retaining intimacy. For getting love, you must give love as it is reciprocal in characteristics.
Failure to get the desired partner leads to the feeling of loneliness and isolation. The consequential psychological effects are self-destructive tendencies, inferiority complex, social distancing, and insecurity. In certain typical cases, some may not like to have closeness with others with the apprehension of losing self-identity. Thus, they manifest a feeling of isolation and loneliness.
Risk Factors for Isolation
Even amidst the maddening crowd, one may feel lonely or isolated. So, isolation is a subjective matter. However, persistent loneliness may adversely affect one’s physical as well as mental health. Due to the excessive secretion of stress hormone and dysfunction of the immune system, a lonely person is threatened to be under anxiety and depression.
Another impending factor of loneliness is unhappiness at a stage where one is at the prime of youth to enjoy life. Studies show that compared to men, women are more prone to clinical diagnosis of depression due to loneliness.
Other Contributing Factors of Isolation
- Separation of a spouse
- Failure of the past generates a sense of repentance and insecurity for the future and the consequent deliberate social isolation.
Once a person becomes a victim of isolation, he develops a fall in self-esteem that may lead to disruption of regular activities, sleeps at night, reduced physical activities, rise in systolic blood pressure, and impairment in cognitive and mental function, change immunity, the decline in self-discipline, and increased mortality. In brief, loneliness could be emotional discomfort and unmet romantic needs. The sense of deprivation may lead to other internal negative emotions such as anger, greed, envy, and selfishness.