Case Studies / Activities


In recent years there has been discussion about whether Erikson’s eight stages should be developed further. One of the key proponents has been Joan Erikson – widow of Erik Erikson. Specifically, the suggestion is made that consideration of a ninth stage may more appropriately reflect the increasing tendency towards ‘older old age’. Brown and Lowis (2003) investigated this proposition in a research study – Psychosocial development in the elderly: An investigation into Erikson’s ninth stage. If you/ your academic institution has access to the Journal of Aging Studies then it would be useful for you read this article and consider the key points made within it.

Brown, C. and Lowis, M. J. (2003) ‘Psychosocial development in the elderly: an investigation into Erikson's ninth stage’, Journal of Aging Studies. 17(4), pp. 415-426.

You will note that Brown and Lowis refer to the work of Tornstam. An article by Tornstam that may of interest can also be found in an earlier edition of the Journal of Aging Studies:

Tornstam, L. (1997) ‘Gerotranscendence: the contemplative dimension of aging’, Journal of Aging Studies, 1(2) :143–154.

If you or your academic institution does not have access to the Journal of Aging Studies, you may wish to look at the following digitally accessible resources and consider the key points therein:

  1. For an overview of the proposed extension to Erikson’s theory see ‘Section I – Introduction’ of the following thesis by Verbraak (2000): Verbraak, A. (2000) Gerotranscendence: an examination of a proposed extension to Erik Erikson’s theory of identity development. [online] Uppsala University: Sweden. Available at:

  2. For a discussion of how Tornstam’s theory of gerotranscendecne may be applied in practice see: Wadensten, B. (2005) Introducing older people to the theory of gerotranscendence Uppsala University: Sweden. Available at: