Erik Erikson

Erik Homberger Erikson was born in 1902 near Frankfort, Germany to Danish parents. Erik studied art and a variety of languages during his school years, rather than science courses such as biology and chemistry. He did not prefer the atmosphere that formal schooling produced so instead of going to college he traveled around Europe, keeping a diary of his experiences. After a year of doing this, he returned to Germany and enrolled in art school. After several years, Erickson began to teach art and other subjects to children of Americans who had come to Vienna for Freudian training. He was then admitted into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. In 1933 he came to the U.S. and became Boston’s first child analyst and obtained a position at the Hayvard Medical School. Later on, he also held positions at institutions including Yale, Berkeley, and the Menninger Foundation. Erickson then returned to California to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Palo Alto and later the Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco, where he was a clinician and psychiatric consultant.
Erickson’s interests were spread over a wide area. He studied combat crises in troubled American soldiers in World War II, child-rearing practices among the Sioux in South Dakota and the Yurok along the Pacific Coast, the play of disturbed and normal children, the conversations of troubled adolescent suffering identity crises, and social behavior in India. Erickson was also constantly concerned with the rapid social changes in America and wrote about issues such as the generation gap, racial tensions, juvenile delinquency, changing sexual roles, and the dangers of nuclear war. Erikson proposed that people grow through experiencing a series of crises. They must achieve trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, their own identity, productivity, integrity, and acceptance.
“Erikson’s main contribution was to bridge the gap between the theories of psychoanalysis on the problems of human development, which emphasize private emotions, and the broader social influences that bear upon the individual. He was a strong proponent of the concept that social environment plays a major role in the development of personality. Going beyond the of a child’s early life, Erikson concentrated on broader issues of peer culture, school environment, and cultural values and ideals. This led him to study the period of adolescence, in which he documented the interaction of a person’s inner feelings and impulses with the world that surrounds the person.”
Erikson developed eight stages of human development. Briefly I would describe all eight my I will concentrate on stages five and six which are adolescence and young adulthood. Myer describes the stages in the following manner. Stage one occurs during the first year This stage is called infancy (trust vs. mistrust) during this stage if needs are dependably met, infants develop a sense of basic trust. The second stage is called the toddler stage (autonomy vs. shame and doubt). This stage occurs while the baby is two years old, in this stage toddlers learn to exercise will do things for themselves, or they doubt their abilities. The third stage is called the preschooler between the ages of three and five (initiative vs. guilt). During this stage preschoolers learn to initiate tasks and carry out plans, or they feel guilty about efforts to be independent. The fourth stage is called the elementary school stage (competence vs. inferiority) from the ages of six through puberty. During this stage children learn the pleasure of applying themselves to tasks, or they feel inferior.
In the fifth stage is the adolescence stage (identity vs. role confusion) this stage occurs during the ages of thirteen years into twenties. The sixth stage is called young adulthood (intimacy vs. isolation) during the ages of around 21 through 40 young adults struggle to form close relationships and to gain capacity for intimate love, or they feel socially isolated. The seventh stage is called middle adulthood (generativity vs. stagnation) during the ages of 41 through about 60 the middle-aged discover a sense of contributing to the world, such as through family and work, or they may feel a lack of purpose. During late adulthood ages 60 and up, (integrity vs. despair) during this stage when reflecting on his or her life, the older adult