Erik Homburger Erikson was a German psychoanalyst known for his contributions to developmental psychology and especially for having formulated the theory of psychosocial development and its eight stages. He was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 15, 1902, and died in Massachusetts, United States, on May 12, 1994. At Harvard Medical School, he got his first job, where he had a private practice to practice psychoanalysis of children. By then, Erikson was associated with renowned psychologists like Kurt Lewin and Henry Murray, as well as with anthropologists such as Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Gregory Bateson. After working at Harvard, the psychoanalyst worked at Yale University, a period devoted to working on the influence of culture and society on child development. To reach its conclusions, Erikson conducted studies with groups of Native American children.
In this way, he managed to formulate theories that would allow him to mark a relationship between the growth of personality and social and family values. Between the years of 1939 and 1951, he worked at the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco. In 1939, Erikson gained US citizenship and for some reason decided to change his surname from Homburger to Erikson (Capps, 2011).
In 1950 he wrote his first major work entitled Childhood and Society. This book contained the articles he devoted to his studies of North American tribes and analytical essays by Maxim Gorky and Adolf Hitler. It also included a discussion of the American personality and an argument based of what would be his version of the Freudian theory.
This issue of the influence of culture on personality, which gave rise to his famous theory of psychosocial development, not only remained in this book. It was a postulate that was repeated constantly in other works of the psychoanalyst. Among them was Gandhi’s truth, a book from which he obtained two great recognitions: the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award (Cameron, 2006).
Erik Erikson’s best-known theory was the theory of personality development or psychosocial development theory (Cameron, 2006). Erikson’s human development scheme has two basic premises:
- The human personality in principle develops according to the steps determined by the ability to progress, to know, to relate to an increasingly larger social sphere of the living person.
- That society in principle is constituted in a way that fulfills and induces the successiveness of oftenness for fundamental interaction and tries to defend and encourage the proper sequence and pace of development.
The concept of the Personality or Self:
The sense of identity comprises both the development of the identity of the self and the blossoming of a sense of self. The identity of the self results from the integration of our past and present roles, as well as the images we have of them. Erikson’s concept of self-integrity includes “the acceptance of one of one and the only cycle of life as something that had to be” (ego theory) It is a model that is epigenetic: every living being has a basic level of development, and it is from this plane that the parts are added, each having its own time of ascension, maturation, and exercise until all have arisen To form a whole in operation. It occurs in three processes (Cameron, 2006).
- A) Biological process: organization of the organ systems that make up the body.
- B) Psychic process: organizes the individual experience through the synthesis of the self.
- C) Social process: cultural organization and interdependence of people.
Each stage is characterized by a particular development task or crisis, which must be resolved before moving on to the next (McLeod, 2013).
Erikson’s human development scheme has two basic premises:
- The human personality in principle develops according to the steps determined by the ability to progress, to know, to relate to an increasingly larger social sphere of the growing person.
- That society in principle is constituted in a way that fulfills and stimulates the series of potentials for first interaction and tries to save and support the appropriate series and pace of development.
Each stage is characterized by a particular development task or crisis, which must be resolved before moving on to the next. The forces and abilities acquired in solving each stage influence the entire personality and in turn suffer the impact of previous or later events. The stages follow each other in the same order, and each one is systematically related to the others. There are some tasks implicit in the development of the human being, characteristic of successive stages. These tasks are, to a large extent, imposed by society and culture. Through the process of socialization, the fulfillment of these tasks becomes an aspiration of the individual himself, definitively marking his behavior in certain moments of his life.
Questions about human nature
The role of the organs is crucial in the early stages for Erikson. In later stages, the acquisition of physical and intellectual abilities determines whether the individual will have a sense of competence and capacity to take on roles within a complicated society. As a psychosocial theorist, Erikson is aware of the body’s constant interaction, psychological processes, and social factors. Accepts the Freudian notion of the importance of biological impulses, but insists that it also modifies society. It details the development of the will in its exposition of the stage of shame or doubt, the progress of a healthy and balanced will extends throughout life. Crucial to achieving a healthy sense of identity is the conviction of what and what I want to be free.
Like emotions, the intellect is an essential element of psychological processes. Erikson does not pay much attention to the role of intellectual faculties, but he points out that their development is critical to the formation of a sense of competence and dominates the Teresa’s of a technological society, establishing a sense of identity, and choosing a profession and social roles Acceptable.
To question of the universality of theory raises a point does the model apply to Western cultures of the past and the present? For example, it considers that productivity begins with motherhood and parenthood. What we can value widely is the integration of social determinants, sociology, and anthropology expanding the possibilities of psychoanalysis.
Cameron, R. J. (2006). Educational Psychology: The distinctive contribution. Educational Psychology in Practice, 22(4), 289–304. https://doi.org/10.1080/02667360600999393
Capps, D. (2011). The Verbal Portrait: Erik H. Erikson’s Contribution to Psychoanalytic Discourse. Journal of Religion and Health, 50(4), 880–898. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-011-9515-3
McLeod, S. (2013). Erik Erikson | Psychosocial Stages | Simply Psychology. Simply Psychology.