Extra Credit Paper

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Stages of Psychosocial Development
“The Savages”

Natalie Joseph
April 12, 2015
Psych. 366
Extra Credit Assignment

Erik Erikson developed a theory called the “Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development.” He theorized that stages are precipitated by crises that all individuals face as they move from birth to death. According to Erikson, each stage presents the individual with a psychosocial conflict that must be resolved. Each stage has a positive and negative pole. The film focused more on how Leonard's dementia affected his family, specifically his children and how it forced them to grow up and take responsibility in their lives.

John and Wendy are not fond of their father. When they discover his deteriorating condition they aren't quite sure how to help. During a conversation with her brother Wendy says, "maybe that's why he was such a terrible father, he probably couldn't remember us." Some people could mistake Wendy’s snide remark by making them think that dementia begins in early adulthood. However, that is the complete opposite, dementia does not normally begin till mid to late adulthood (Whitbourne, 108). When the woman Lenny has been living with in Sun City dies, Wendy and John fly out to see what they can do. They learn that the woman's family wants Lenny out of the house. It doesn't help that neither of them has ever been close to their domineering father. They both have carried psychological wounds for years and now find themselves facing a new side of their father, a vulnerable old man who doesn't know where he is or what has happened to him.

Wendy Savage is a struggling New York playwright who supports herself with temp jobs. She is having a dead-end affair with a married man; her neighbor named Larry and still dresses like a teenager. She immediately must step awkwardly into the mothering role when she begins to take on the responsibility of caring for her dementia stricken father. Clearing out her father’s room at his house, carrying his belongings onto the plane, helping him to the bathroom, she is confused and resentful the way a teenage girl might be, recognizing her duty while never quite accepting it. When viewing the actions and personality of Wendy it is clear to see that she is stuck in between Erikson’s Identity v. Role Confusion and also Intimacy and Solidarity v. Isolation. At the beginning of the film, it seems as if Wendy is still trying to find her place in life and figure out what she should do. She is also attempting to make intimate relationships. An example of this is her relationship with Larry and…