The different vital processes and phases, with their respective characteristics.
Although many times we consider that “life” is a single thing that we all experience, the truth is that there are some nuances that make each of us go through it in different ways. One of the factors that makes it change is the material context in which we live, such as the type of family in which we are born, the money we have, the place we live, etc.
However, no less important factor is the way in which our own body makes us live. And, in that sense, the passing of the years and age make us experience things differently.
Are there “life stages”?
That is why, for example, in the history of psychology there are many authors who have proposed to classify stages of life, especially those that are part of one of its phases: childhood. Although each one defined their own criteria to decide where one ended and the other began.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, defined different stages of psychosexual development, a theory closely related to his idea of the unconscious mind. Jean Piaget, in turn, laid the foundations of Evolutionary Psychology by establishing stages of cognitive development that go from childhood to adulthood.
But all these ideas are framed in a broader theoretical context that tells us about the stages of life in general, evaluating both psychological and physical changes.
The different phases of life we go through
Next we will see what are the main stages of life that define how we behave, how we perceive reality and what our needs are.
Although it is true that the limits of these stages are not very clear and it is debatable whether some begin or end sooner or later, there is a relative consensus about what they are and how they occupy our lives.
1. Prenatal stage
Life begins before birth, and the prenatal stage is the one that includes the moments when it has not yet left the uterus. In that period we are already capable of learning through touch and sounds, that is, the human brain already associates stimuli with adequate responses.
2. Early childhood
Early childhood begins at birth and ends around the age of 3 or 4. It is the stage in which the most important steps in the development of language are taken and in addition essential learning about how the world works and the movement of things are carried out.
In addition, the use of language makes one begin to create increasingly abstract and complex concepts that will help to reach a deeper level of understanding about things.
3. Early childhood
This stage of life is the one that, more or less, goes from 3 to 6 years ; that is why it is also defined as the preschool stage.
In this phase, self-concept is formed and the ability to think about the mental states of others is gained, either to intuit their intentions or to know what information they do not know. This ability is called theory of mind.
4. Middle childhood
Middle or school childhood ranges from 6 to 11 years old. At this stage there is much progress in the ability to understand mathematical operations and the structure of complex sentences.
In the same way, the importance of having good relationships with others and of giving a good image begins to gain weight, and inclusion in a group of friends is also valued more.
Adolescence ranges from 11 to 17 years old. It is a crucial stage, since the ability to think in abstract terms is consolidated and hormonal changes occur that can produce some emotional lability.
In addition, adolescence is the most intense part of the search for one’s own identity, and the social circles to which you want to belong gain a lot of influence on the person.
6. Stage of youth
This stage goes, approximately, from 18 to 35 years old. Here, the longest lasting circles of friendship are consolidated and you learn to live with a high degree of independence, so that you hardly depend on your parents. Psychologically and biologically, physical and mental capacities also reach their peak, and between the ages of 25 and 30 they begin to decline slightly.
7. Stage of maturity
Maturity ranges from 36 to 50 years. In this phase, the labor aspect is consolidated and a specialization is fully learned that will allow generating income to live independently in most Western countries.
On the other hand, the expectations of change in one’s life are becoming moderate and the vital objectives are oriented more towards stability.
8. Stage of mature adulthood
This phase goes from 50 to 65 years. In it, it is customary to consolidate the income level to levels that allow you to live better than before, but there are bodily changes that you have to know how to manage. At the same time, the assessment of stability also increases.
The third age begins at 65 years of age, and in it a new independence is gained by the disappearance of the usual work obligations and by the departure of the children that may have been had.
In some cases this produces Empty Nest Syndrome, and exposure to grief is more frequent as family members of the same generation and friends die.