Erik Erikson’s Theory Applied to Peter Griffin

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Ben Suhrie Dr. McMinn PSY 212 2/26/14 Character Application 1: Erik Erikson’s Theory Applied to Peter Griffin Family Guy is an adult cartoon on Fox pioneered by Seth MacFarlane. This show portrays the Griffin family, which includes married couple Peter and Lois as well as Chris, Stewie, and Meg, the children; they also have a talking pet dog named Brain. It takes place Quahog, a town in Rhode Island, and most of its comedy consists of short clips which parody various parts of American society. The main character is Peter, an obese blue collar worker. He often drinks with his neighbors Quagmire, Joe, and Cleveland at the “Drunken Clam,” a local bar. Based on an I.Q. test, Peter’s intelligence level falls slightly below the cutoff for mental retardation. His defining characteristics are his impulsiveness, carelessness, and short attention span, which often lead him into strange situations. He is known for his lack of intelligence and is usually depicted as offensive and immature. Nonetheless, his many quirks make him a fascinating character to analyze. This paper explores Peter Griffin’s behavior from the perspective of Erik Erikson’s theory of personality development. Erikson explained eight stages which a healthy person should go through from cradle to grave. At each stage, the individual undergoes and hopefully overcomes a new developmental challenge. Failure in surmounting a challenge could manifest as future problems. These stages are defined by the struggle of two opposing forces (Crain, 2011). Basic trust vs. basic mistrust occurs at infancy, when the human being is dependent on a caregiver for nourishment. Autonomy vs. shame and doubt takes place when muscular control is developing and the child begins to gain some control of bodily functions. At initiative vs. guilt, the child acquires motor ability and curiosity, increased development in imagination
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