15 June 1902
|Died||12 May 1994 91) (aged|
|Notable students||Richard Sennett|
|Notable ideas||Theory on psychological development|
Erik Homburger Erikson (born Erik Salomonsen; 15 June 1902 – 12 May 1994) was a German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on psychological development of human beings. He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis . His son, Kai T. Erikson, is a noted American sociologist.
Despite lacking a bachelor's degree, Erikson served as a professor at prominent institutions, including Harvard, University of California, Berkeley,and Yale. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Erikson as the 12th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
Erikson's mother, Karla Abrahamsen, came from a prominent Jewish family in Copenhagen, Denmark. She was married to Jewish stockbroker Valdemar Isidor Salomonsen, but had been estranged from him for several months at the time Erik was conceived. Little is known about Erik's biological father except that he was a non-Jewish Dane. On discovering her pregnancy, Karla fled to Frankfurt am Main in Germany where Erik was born on 15 June 1902 and was given the surname Salomonsen.She fled due to conceiving Erik out of wedlock, and the identity of Erik's birth father was never made clear.
Following Erik's birth, Karla trained to be a nurse and moved to Karlsruhe. In 1905 she married Erik's Jewish pediatrician, Theodor Homburger. In 1908, Erik Salomonsen's name was changed to Erik Homburger, and in 1911 he was officially adopted by his stepfather.Karla and Theodor told Erik that Theodor was his real father, only revealing the truth to him in late childhood; he remained bitter about the deception all his life.
The development of identity seems to have been one of Erikson's greatest concerns in his own life as well as being central to his theoretical work. As an older adult, he wrote about his adolescent "identity confusion" in his European days. "My identity confusion", he wrote "[was at times on] the borderline between neurosis and adolescent psychosis." Erikson's daughter writes that her father's "real psychoanalytic identity" was not established until he "replaced his stepfather's surname [Homburger] with a name of his own invention [Erikson]."The decision to change his last name came about as he started his job at Yale, and the "Erikson" name was accepted by Erik's family when they became American citizens. It is said his children enjoyed the fact they would not be called "Hamburger" any longer.
Erik was a tall, blond, blue-eyed boy who was raised in the Jewish religion. Due to these mixed identities, he was a target of bigotry by both Jewish and gentile children. At temple school, his peers teased him for being Nordic; while at grammar school, he was teased for being Jewish.At Das Humanistische Gymnasium his main interests were art, history and languages, but he lacked a general interest in school and graduated without academic distinction. After graduation, instead of attending medical school as his stepfather had desired, he attended art school in Munich, much to the likes of his mother and her friends.
Uncertain about his vocation and his fit in society, Erik dropped out of school and began a lengthy period of roaming about Germany and Italy as a wandering artist with his childhood friend Peter Blos and others. For children from prominent German families taking a "wandering year" was not uncommon. During his travels he often sold or traded his sketches to people he met. Eventually, Erik realized he would never become a full-time artist and returned to Karlsruhe and became an art teacher. During the time he worked at his teaching job Erik was hired by an heiress to sketch and eventually tutor her children. Erik worked very well with these children and was eventually hired by many other families that were close to Anna and Sigmund Freud.During this period, which lasted until he was 25 years old, he continued to contend with questions about his father and competing ideas of ethnic, religious, and national identity.
When Erikson was twenty-five, his friend Peter Blos invited him to Vienna to tutor art [ failed verification ] In 1933 he received his diploma from the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. This and his Montessori diploma were to be Erikson's only earned academic credentials for his life's work.at the small Burlingham-Rosenfeld School for children whose affluent parents were undergoing psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud's daughter, Anna Freud. Anna noticed Erikson's sensitivity to children at the school and encouraged him to study psychoanalysis at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute, where prominent analysts August Aichhorn, Heinz Hartmann, and Paul Federn were among those who supervised his theoretical studies. He specialized in child analysis and underwent a training analysis with Anna Freud. Helene Deutsch and Edward Bibring supervised his initial treatment of an adult. Simultaneously he studied the Montessori method of education, which focused on child development and sexual stages.
In 1930 Erikson married Joan Mowat Serson, a Canadian dancer and artist whom Erikson had met at a dress ball.During their marriage Erikson converted to Christianity. In 1933, with Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany, the burning of Freud's books in Berlin and the potential Nazi threat to Austria, the family left an impoverished Vienna with their two young sons and emigrated to Copenhagen. Unable to regain Danish citizenship because of residence requirements, the family left for the United States, where citizenship would not be an issue.
In the United States, Erikson became the first child psychoanalyst in Boston and held positions at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Judge Baker Guidance Center, and at Harvard Medical School and Psychological Clinic, establishing a singular reputation as a clinician. In 1936, Erikson left Harvard and joined the staff at Yale University, where he worked at the Institute of Social Relations and taught at the medical school.
Erikson continued to deepen his interest in areas beyond psychoanalysis and to explore connections between psychology and anthropology. He made important contacts with anthropologists such as Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and Ruth Benedict.Erikson said his theory of the development of thought derived from his social and cultural studies. In 1938, he left Yale to study the Sioux tribe in South Dakota on their reservation. After his studies in South Dakota he traveled to California to study the Yurok tribe. Erikson discovered differences between the children of the Sioux and Yurok tribe. This marked the beginning of Erikson's life passion of showing the importance of events in childhood and how society affects them.
In 1939 he left Yale, and the Eriksons moved to California, where Erik had been invited to join a team engaged in a longitudinal study of child development for the University of California at Berkeley's Institute of Child Welfare. In addition, in San Francisco he opened a private practice in child psychoanalysis.
While in California he was able to make his second study of American Indian children when he joined anthropologist Alfred Kroeber on a field trip to Northern California to study the Yurok.
In 1950, after publishing the book, Childhood and Society , for which he is best known, Erikson left the University of California when California's Levering Act required professors there to sign loyalty oaths.From 1951 to 1960 he worked and taught at the Austen Riggs Center, a prominent psychiatric treatment facility in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he worked with emotionally troubled young people. Another famous Stockbridge resident, Norman Rockwell, became Erikson's patient and friend. During this time he also served as a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh where he worked with Benjamin Spock and Fred Rogers at Arsenal Nursery School of the Western Psychiatric Institute.
He returned to Harvard in the 1960s as a professor of human development and remained there until his retirement in 1970. In 1973 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected Erikson for the Jefferson Lecture, the United States' highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Erikson's lecture was titled Dimensions of a New Identity.
Erikson is also credited with being one of the originators of ego psychology, which stressed the role of the ego as being more than a servant of the id. Although Erikson accepted Freud's theory, he did not focus on the parent-child relationship and gave more importance to the role of the ego, particularly the person's progression as self.According to Erikson, the environment in which a child lived was crucial to providing growth, adjustment, a source of self-awareness and identity. Erikson won a Pulitzer Prize and a US National Book Award in category Philosophy and Religion for Gandhi's Truth (1969), which focused more on his theory as applied to later phases in the life cycle.
In Erikson's discussion of development, rarely did he mention a stage of development by age but in fact did refer to a prolonged adolescence which has led to further investigation into a period of development between adolescence and young adulthood called emerging adulthood .On ego identity versus role confusion: ego identity enables each person to have a sense of individuality, or as Erikson would say, "Ego identity, then, in its subjective aspect, is the awareness of the fact that there is a self-sameness and continuity to the ego's synthesizing methods and a continuity of one's meaning for others". Role confusion, however, is, according to Barbara Engler, "the inability to conceive of oneself as a productive member of one's own society." This inability to conceive of oneself as a productive member is a great danger; it can occur during adolescence, when looking for an occupation.
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The Erikson life-stage virtues, in order of the eight stages in which they may be acquired, are:
Favorable outcomes of each stage are sometimes known as virtues, a term used in the context of Erikson's work as it is applied to medicine, meaning "potencies". These virtues are also interpreted to be the same as "strengths", which are considered inherent in the individual life cycle and in the sequence of generations.Erikson's research suggests that each individual must learn how to hold both extremes of each specific life-stage challenge in tension with one another, not rejecting one end of the tension or the other. Only when both extremes in a life-stage challenge are understood and accepted as both required and useful, can the optimal virtue for that stage surface. Thus, 'trust' and 'mis-trust' must both be understood and accepted, in order for realistic 'hope' to emerge as a viable solution at the first stage. Similarly, 'integrity' and 'despair' must both be understood and embraced, in order for actionable 'wisdom' to emerge as a viable solution at the last stage.
Psychoanalytic writers have always engaged in nonclinical interpretation of cultural phenomena such as art, religion, and historical movements. Erik Erikson gave such a strong contribution that his work was well received by students of religion and spurred various secondary literature.
Erikson’s psychology of religion begins with an acknowledgement of how religious tradition can have an interplay with a child’s basis sense of trust or mistrust.With regard to Erikson’s theory of personality as expressed in his eight stages of the life cycle, each with their different tasks to master, each also included a corresponding virtue, as mentioned above, which form a taxonomy for religious and ethical life. Erikson extends this construct by emphasizing that human individual and social life is characterized by ritualization, “an agreed-upon interplay between at least two persons who repeat it at meaningful intervals an in recurring contexts.” Such ritualization involves careful attentiveness to what can be called ceremonial forms and details, higher symbolic meanings, active engagement of participants, and a feeling of absolute necessity. Each life cycle stage includes its own ritualization with a corresponding ritualism: numinous vs. idolism, judicious vs. legalism, dramatic vs. impersonation, formal vs. formalism, ideological vs. totalism, affiliative vs. elitism, generational vs. authoritism, and integral vs. dogmatism.
Perhaps Erikson’s best-known contributions to the psychology of religion were his book length psychobiographies, Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History, on Martin Luther, and Gandhi’s Truth, on Mohandas K. Gandhi, for which he remarkably won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Both books attempt to show how childhood development and parental influence, social and cultural context, even political crises form a confluence with personal identity. These studies demonstrate how each influential person discovered mastery, both individually and socially, in what Erikson would call the historical moment. Individuals like Luther or Gandhi were what Erikson called a Homo Religiosus, individuals for whom the final life cycle challenge of integrity vs. despair is a lifelong crisis, and they become gifted innovators whose own psychological cure becomes an ideological breakthrough for their time.
Erikson married Canadian-born American dancer and artist Joan Erikson (née Sarah Lucretia Serson) in 1930 and they remained together until his death.
The Eriksons had four children, the eldest of whom is the sociologist Kai T. Erikson. Jon Erikson. Their daughter, Sue Erikson Bloland, "an integrative psychotherapist and psychoanalyst",described her father as plagued by "lifelong feelings of personal inadequacy". He thought that by combining resources with his wife, he could "achieve the recognition" that might produce a feeling of adequacy. Their youngest son is Neil Erikson.
Erikson died on 12 May 1994 in Harwich, Massachusetts. He is buried in the First Congregational Church Cemetery in Harwich.
Developmental psychology is the scientific study of how and why human beings change over the course of their life. Originally concerned with infants and children, the field has expanded to include adolescence, adult development, aging, and the entire lifespan. Developmental psychologists aim to explain how thinking, feeling, and behaviors change throughout life. This field examines change across three major dimensions: physical development, cognitive development, and social emotional development. Within these three dimensions are a broad range of topics including motor skills, executive functions, moral understanding, language acquisition, social change, personality, emotional development, self-concept, and identity formation.
Psychoanalysis is a set of theories and therapeutic techniques used to study the unconscious mind, which together form a method of treatment for mental disorders. The discipline was established in the early 1890s by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, who retained the term psychoanalysis for his own school of thought. Freud's work stems partly from the clinical work of Josef Breuer and others. Psychoanalysis was later developed in different directions, mostly by students of Freud, such as Alfred Adler and his collaborator, Carl Gustav Jung, as well as by neo-Freudian thinkers, such as Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, and Harry Stack Sullivan.
Psychohistory is an amalgam of psychology, history, and related social sciences and the humanities. It examines the "why" of history, especially the difference between stated intention and actual behavior. Psychobiography, childhood, group dynamics, mechanisms of psychic defense, dreams, and creativity are primary areas of research. It works to combine the insights of psychology, especially psychoanalysis, with the research methodology of the social sciences and humanities to understand the emotional origin of the behavior of individuals, groups and nations, past and present. Work in the field has been done in the areas of childhood, creativity, dreams, family dynamics, overcoming adversity, personality, political and presidential psychobiography. There are major psychohistorical studies of studies of anthropology, art, ethnology, history, politics and political science, and much else.
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst.
Psychoanalytic theory is the theory of personality organization and the dynamics of personality development that guides psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology. First laid out by Sigmund Freud in the late 19th century, psychoanalytic theory has undergone many refinements since his work. Psychoanalytic theory came to full prominence in the last third of the twentieth century as part of the flow of critical discourse regarding psychological treatments after the 1960s, long after Freud's death in 1939. Freud had ceased his analysis of the brain and his physiological studies and shifted his focus to the study of the mind and the related psychological attributes making up the mind, and on treatment using free association and the phenomena of transference. His study emphasized the recognition of childhood events that could influence the mental functioning of adults. His examination of the genetic and then the developmental aspects gave the psychoanalytic theory its characteristics. Starting with his publication of The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, his theories began to gain prominence.
Anna Freud was a British psychoanalyst of Austrian-Jewish descent. She was born in Vienna, the sixth and youngest child of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays. She followed the path of her father and contributed to the field of psychoanalysis. Alongside Hermine Hug-Hellmuth and Melanie Klein, she may be considered the founder of psychoanalytic child psychology.
Introjection is a psychoanalytic concept that refers to an unconscious process wherein one takes components of another person's identity, such as feelings, experiences, and cognitive functioning, and transfers them inside themselves, making such experiences part of their new psychic structure. These components are obliterated from consciousness (splitting), perceived in someone else (projection), and then experienced and performed by that other person. Cognate concepts are identification, incorporation, and internalization.
Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, as articulated in the second half of the 20th century by Erik Erikson in collaboration with Joan Erikson, is a comprehensive psychoanalytic theory that identifies a series of eight stages that a healthy developing individual should pass through from infancy to late adulthood. According to Erikson’s theory the results from each stage, whether positive or negative, influences the results of succeeding stages. Erikson published a book called Childhood and Society around the 1950’s that made his research well known on the eight stages of psychosocial development. Erikson was originally influenced by Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual stages of development. He began by working with Freud's theories specifically. However, as he began to dive deeper into biopsychosocial development and how other environmental factors affect human development, he soon progressed past Freud’s theories and developed his own ideas.
Nancy Julia Chodorow is an American sociologist and professor. She describes herself as a humanistic psychoanalytic sociologist and psychoanalytic feminist. Throughout her career, she has been influenced by psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Karen Horney, as well as feminist theorists Beatrice Whiting and Phillip Slater. She is a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association, and often speaks at its congresses. She began as a professor at Wellesley College in 1973, a year later she began at the University of California, Santa Cruz until 1986. She then went on to spend many years as a professor in the departments of sociology and clinical psychology at the University of California, Berkeley until her retirement in 2005. Later, she began her career teaching psychiatry at Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance. Chodorow is often described as a leader in feminist thought, especially in the realms of psychoanalysis and psychology.
Ego psychology is a school of psychoanalysis rooted in Sigmund Freud's structural id-ego-superego model of the mind.
Franz Gabriel Alexander was a Hungarian-American psychoanalyst and physician, who is considered one of the founders of psychosomatic medicine and psychoanalytic criminology.
Ego integrity was the term given by Erik Erikson to the last of his eight stages of psychosocial development, and used by him to represent 'a post-narcissistic love of the human ego—as an experience which conveys some world order and spiritual sense, no matter how dearly paid for'.
The Austen Riggs Center is a psychiatric treatment facility in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. It was founded by Austen Fox Riggs in 1913 as the Stockbridge Institute for the Study and Treatment of Psychoneuroses before being renamed in honor of Austen Riggs on July 21, 1919.
Fixation is a concept that was originated by Sigmund Freud (1905) to denote the persistence of anachronistic sexual traits. The term subsequently came to denote object relationships with attachments to people or things in general persisting from childhood into adult life.
In Neo-Freudian psychology, the Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Jung in his Theory of Psychoanalysis, is a girl's psychosexual competition with her mother for possession of her father. In the course of her psychosexual development, the complex is the girl's phallic stage; a boy's analogous experience is the Oedipus complex. The Electra complex occurs in the third—phallic stage —of five psychosexual development stages: (i) the Oral, (ii) the Anal, (iii) the Phallic, (iv) the Latent, and (v) the Genital—in which the source of libido pleasure is in a different erogenous zone of the infant's body.
The Oedipus complex is a concept of psychoanalytic theory. Sigmund Freud introduced the concept in his Interpretation of Dreams (1899) and coined the expression in his A Special Type of Choice of Object made by Men (1910). The positive Oedipus complex refers to a child's unconscious sexual desire for the opposite-sex parent and hatred for the same-sex parent. The negative Oedipus complex refers to a child's unconscious sexual desire for the same-sex parent and hatred for the opposite-sex parent. Freud considered that the child's identification with the same-sex parent is the successful outcome of the complex and that unsuccessful outcome of the complex might lead to neurosis, pedophilia, and homosexuality.
Peter J. Loewenberg is a teacher of “European cultural, intellectual, German, Austrian and Swiss history. Political Psychology, integrating the identities of an historian and political psychologist with the clinical practice of psychoanalysis” at UCLA.
Joan Mowat Erikson was well known as the collaborator with her husband, Erik Erikson, and as an author, educator, craftsperson, and dance ethnographer.
Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History is a 1958 book by the psychologist Erik Erikson. It was one of the first psychobiographies of a famous historical figure. Erikson found in Martin Luther a good model of his discovery of "the identity crisis". Erikson was sure he could explain Luther's spontaneous eruption, during a monastery choir practice, "I am not!"
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