Erik Erikson Essay Research Paper Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson Essay, Research Paper

Erik Erikson was born on June 15, 1902 in Frankfurt, Germany. His parents had

separated from each other before he was born and his mother wedded a Jewish doctor.

They raised Erik under the last name of Homburger, which belonged to his Jewish

stepfather. (Martin) His peers beheld him as Jewish, but his Jewish temple did not accept

him because of his appearance. Consequently, during his youth, Erikson had many

struggles with identity. (Boeree)

Erikson?s family very much wanted him to study science. Erikson did not do well

in school and did not continue on to university. Instead of pursuing the science degree, he

went to art school and enjoyed eight years of traveling Europe as a wandering artist.


After Erikson had graduated from art school, he began to teach at a private school

in Vienna. He attended the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. He also taught in a small

private school and educated himself as a Montessori teacher. Erikson studied

psychoanalysis with Anna Freud, the youngest of Sigmund and Martha Freud’s six

children. (Astor) He married a woman whose name was Joan M. Serson and had two

sons with her. (Boeree)

In the early 1930?s, Erikson moved his family to the United States. He became a

US citizen in 1939 and changed his last name from Homburger to Erikson. (Martin)

Erikson worked at Harvard Medical School, Yale University, and several private

appointments in their clinics for disturbed children. At Harvard he taught a course on the

life cycle that became very popular, especially during the untamed 60?s. (Martin)

In the year 1950, Erikson published a very influential book titled, Childhood and

Society. This book included Erikson?s famous Eight Stages of Psychosocial

Development. (Martin)

In 1951, Erikson began to work at a private mental hospital called the

Austen-Riggs Clinic, located in Stockbridge, MA. He also served as a consultant at the

University of Pittsburgh?s Western Psychiatric Institute. He continued to work at Harvard

until he retired in 1970. (Martin)

After retirement, the Erikson?s moved to the Bay Area of California, and

continued to work at training another generation of child workers at the Mt. Zion hospital

in San Francisco. He led many seminars on his Eight Stages and other psychological

topics. (Boeree)

The Erikson?s relocated to Massachusetts in the early 1990?s and Erik died in

1994. (Martin)The Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development

Erikson developed eight stages of Psychosocial Development. These stages were

built off of Sigmund Freud?s psychosexual theory of development. (Bukatko 20-23)

Erikson?s first stage is called the Basic Trust vs. Basic Mistrust. This is the stage

of the 1st year (infancy) when the baby is completely dependent on its caregiver for food,

warmth and love. Babies need to find constant stability in the behavior of their caregivers

in order to acquire a sense of trust in the world. If the caregiver does not tend to the

infant?s needs, then the infant will not have trust and feel that the world is not a safe place.

This is also what Freud called the ?Oral Stage?. This means that the libidinal energy is

focused on the mouth for chewing sucking and eating. (Bukatko 20-23)

The second stage is called Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt. This stage occurs

between 1 and 3 years of age. This is when the child begins to explore things and make

choices. (Bukatko 23) The energies of the child are directed at developing physical skill.

This was based on Freud?s ?Anal Stage,? when the child is learning toilet training and

mastering rectal sphincter control. The goal in this stage is to help the child understand

what is socially acceptable without having the child lose his sense of will. At this stage the

child feels that the world revolves completely around him and he is very ego centric.

(Morrison 214-215)

The third stage is called Initiative vs. Guilt. This stage happens between the ages

of 3 and 6. This is the first time the child begins to set goals. (Morrison 214-215) The

child wants to achieve an understanding for living. Children need to express their

newfound independence but also need to have instruction on what is socially right and

wrong. If they are shamed about enacting this independence they will develop feelings of

guilt. During this stage, the child begins to take other people?s feelings into consideration

and is not so ego-centric. (Bukatko 23)

Industry vs. Inferiority is the name of the fourth stage. The age that this stage

occurs is about 6 years old, and it continues all the way to puberty. The child starts to

perform ?work? in the form of school and develops an idea of skills in their culture. If the

child does well in this stage, they will feel capable of having skills throughout life. If the

child fails, then the result is feelings of weakness and inadequacy. (Martin)

Stage five is called Identity vs. Identity confusion. It is also known as the

?Latency Period.? It starts at puberty and continues to young adulthood. At adolescence,

the teenager begins to bring together life experiences and makes decisions on who they

want to become. The teenager may try out many different roles in this stage, just to see

which one fits them. (Martin)

Intimacy vs. Isolation is what we call stage six. This stage is experienced in young

adulthood. Hopefully by this stage, the young adult has achieved a sense of identity and

wants to determine his or her function or role in society. Self absorption should have

disintegrated by this time, and the individual can now share his or herself with someone

else in relationships. (Bukatko 23) If they cannot form positive relationships, and have not

resolved the issue of self absorption, the individual may become lonely and feel that they

cannot love.

Stage seven is called Generativty vs. Stagnation. This stage occurs in middle

adulthood when the individual should become productive. This is the time where the

individual can care for the next generation, and usually has their own children to raise and

care for. If the individual is not productive, they develop a sense of boredom and

depression. (Bukatko 23)

Old age is when the last stage transpires. This stage is named Integrity vs.

Despair. This is when the elderly person reexamines his or her life and measures its

importance. Feelings of wisdom are usually attained by this stage. If life has not seemed

to meet goals and expectations, the individual may feel hopelessness and dispair. (Martin)

Erikson?s work has been very influential in respect to the psychology field. It

serves to help Psychologists, child caregivers, and just about every individual in

understanding the life processes.


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