According to Erikson some parental behaviors are pathogenic because they prevent effective resolutions of epigenetic crises. In many instances Kevin’s mother and father contributed to Kevin’s underdevelopment of a competent ego. To begin with, Erikson displayed an extended and altered version of Freud’s psychodynamic theory. Erikson extended Freud’s infantile developmental stages into adolescence, adulthood, and old age, following a completed life cycle. Additionally, Erikson suggested that at each stage “a specific psychosocial struggle contributes to the formation of personality…that struggle takes the form of an identity crisis—a turning point in one’s life that may either strengthen or weaken personality” (Feist & Feist, 2008, p. 243). In the movie, it is showcased that Kevin’s mother, Eva, seemed to have been suffering from some sort of internal illness e.g. depression. Just after Kevin is born, it is quite noticeable from the mother and infant relationship, characteristics of postpartum depression: suffered by a mother following childbirth, commonly arising from the combination of hormonal and psychological changes to motherhood, as well as displaying fatigue.
Kevin as an infant was always crying, his mother on the other hand was incapable of meeting her infant’s needs. For example, in a particular scene when Kevin was crying non-stop, Eva decided to go out for a stroll hoping the walk would calm him down. Instead, the walk made it worse as they passed a construction zone full of commotion and noise, causing Kevin to be further agitated as he continued to cry. His mother’s behavior exhibited that she did not know what to do further, for a moment Eva even blanked out leaving Kevin surrounded in the chaotic noises of the construction site.
Erikson stated that “our ego is a positive force that creates a self-identity, as the center of our personality, our ego helps us adapt to the various conflicts and crises of life” (Feist & Feist, 2008, p. 246). The ego grows as our organs do developing sequentially following an epigenetic principle. So certain changes arise at a particular time, one characteristic develops on top of another. In every stage of life there is an interaction of opposites (conflict), In Kevin’s case during infancy basic trust was not strengthened, thus there is an established mistrust with his mother. An infant is mostly dependent on their caregivers; the level of quality of care the child receives plays an important role in shaping the child’s personality. Since that bond was not formed or strengthened, there are constant conflicts between Kevin and his mother disguised as child play.
As a result “an infant who learns only to mistrust becomes overly suspicious and cynical” (Feist & Feist, 2008, p. 249). Correspondingly Kevin displays this throughout the movie as he conducts mischievous behaviors against his mother forcing her to become aggravated. In a particular example as a child, Kevin destroys his mother’s art...