Industry Versus Inferiority

Although school age is a period of little sexual development, it is a time of tremendous social growth. The psychosocial crisis of this stage is industry versus inferiority. Industry, a syntonic quality, means industriousness, a willingness to remain busy with something and to finish a job. School-age children learn to work and play at activities directed toward acquirmg job skills and toward learning the rules of cooperation.

As children learn to do things well, they develop a sense of industry, but if their work is insufficient to accomplish their goals, they acquire a sense of inferiority—the dystonic quality of the school age. Earlier madequacies can also contribute to children's feelings of inferiority. For example, if children acquhe too much guilt and too little purpose during the play age, they will likely feel mferior and incompetent during the school age. However, failure is not inevitable. Erikson was opthnistic in suggesting that people can successfully handle the crisis of any given stage even though they were not completely successful in previous stages.

The ratio between industry and inferiority should, of course, favor industry; but inferiority, like the other dystonic qualities, should not be avoided. As Alfred Adler (Chapter 3) pointed out, mferiority can serve as an impetus to do one's best. Conversely, an oversupply of inferiority can block productive activity and stunt one's feelings of competence.

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