Where and When He Lived (Erik’s Background):

  • Born in: Frankfurt, Germany on June 15th, 1902
  • 1911: Adopted by step-father Theodor Homburger
  • 1919: Begins traveling throughout Europe
  • 1927: Becomes teacher at Heitzing School in Vienna
  • Researched at the Vienna Psychoanalytical Institute
  • 1928: Studied child psychology with Anna Freud
  • 1933: Emigrated to USA; learned of society and culture on child development
  • 1939: Offered teacher position at Harvard Medical School
  • Died: May 12th, 1994

Erik’s 8 Stages of Personality Development:

  • Oral- Sensory Stage: Birth to 12-18 months: Trust vs. Mistrust; Children develop trust when parents provide love, care and support from birth, however the lack of this will lead to mistrust.
  • Muscular- Anal Stage: 18 months to 3 years: Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt; Children need to develop of sense of independence and control over their physical skills, failure of doing so leads to shame and doubt.
  • Locomotor Stage: 3-6 years: Initiative vs. Guilt; Children need to feel a sense of control over the environment and children who try to show too much power receive disapproval, resulting to guilt
  • Latency Stage: 6-12 years: Resolve conflicting feelings of industry vs. Inferiority with dealing with school; Children need to deal with new social and educational demands, failure results in feelings of inferiority
  • Adolescence: 12-18 years: Identity vs. Role Confusion; Teens need to stay true to themselves and try to recognize themselves and their identity, failure leads to insecurities
  • Young Adulthood: 18-25 years : Intimacy vs. Isolation; Young adults need to bond relationships and success results in long-lasting relationships whereas failure leads to loneliness
  • Adulthood: 25-65 years: Generativity vs. Stagnation; Adults need to create generations that will outlast them
  • Maturity: 65 years to death: Conflict of Ego vs. Despair; Adults need to feel fulfilled with the way their lives have passed, failure results in regret

Contributions to the Social Sciences:

  • Best known for developing theory: Identity Crisis
  • Erik believes people experience identity crisis when they lose “a sense of personal sameness and historical continuity”
  • Identity crisis is reoccurring often since the changing world demands us to constantly redefine ourselves
  • Believed that humans have to resolve different conflicts as they progress through each stage of development, in their life cycle
  • He is also credited for widening scope of psychoanalytic theory
  • Analyzed changes on many aspects including the generation gap, racial tensions, changing sexual roles and danger of nuclear war and other environmental factors
  • Erikson’s addition of other influences helped broaden the psychoanalytical theory
  • He also contributed to our understanding of personality as it’s developed and shaped over the course of lifespan
  • He believed humans have to resolve different conflicts as they progress through each stage of development in life cycle
  • At adolescent stage, teens must figure out who they are (identity crisis)
  • To take greater account of social, cultural and environmental factors

How he helped to further the discipline of:

  • Sociology: Personality helps us choose our friends and determines the way we act in front of people and it is the reason why we have certain types of attitudes and behaviours.
  • Psychology: These 8 stages define personality development throughout our lives and make us who we are as a person, and explain why we are that way.
  • Anthropology: Our personalities would reflect what our ancestors were like and shows our cultural background.

Reflection and Importance on the Credibility of the Study to Contemporary Social Issues:

  • His addition of stages to Freud’s psychosexual stages makes the understanding of human behaviour possible.
  • His contribution helped the humankind understand their own behaviours (and the reason behind why they behave certain way).
  • His book makes it possible for ordinary people to understand their life better.
  • Helps understand teens’ problems (easier to give therapy or resolve their problem because we understand how their behaviour is moulded.)
  • Helps parents understand their children (the child’s need for love and trust in beginning stage…etc)

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1 Comment on "Erik H. Erikson: Biography & Works"

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John Mordock
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Hi Do you know from whom I could seek permission to reprint the black & white photo of Erikson that appears on the top right of your article on him.

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