Stages of Development

Sullivan (1953b) postulated seven epochs or stages of development, each crucial to the formation of human personality. The thread of interpersonal relations runs throughout the stages; other people are indispensable to a person s development from infancy to mature adulthood.

Personality change can take place at any time, but it is most likely to occur during the transition from one stage to the next. In fact, these threshold periods are more crucial than the stages themselves. Experiences previously dissociated or selectively inattended may enter mto the self-system during one of the transitional periods. Sullivan hypothesized that, "as one passes over one of these more-or-less determinable thresholds of a developmental era, everything that has gone before becomes reasonably open to influence" (p. 227). His seven stages are infancy, childhood, the juvenile era, preadolescence, early adolescence, late adolescence, and adulthood.

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