Erik H. Erikson, a German-born American psychologist and psychoanalyst, developed theories about the sequence of human development that have had an impact on clinical psychoanalysis, ethics, history, literature, child care, and the emerging interdisciplinary study of the life course. Erikson was an art student, but after undergoing psychoanalysis by Anna Freud in Vienna in 1927, he turned to the field of psychology. According to Erikson's life-cycle theory, first published in Childhood and Society (1950), there are eight developmental stages, which are biologically determined but environmentally shaped: infancy, early childhood, play age, school age, adolescence, young adulthood, mature adulthood, and old age. Each of these stages is associated with a particular crisis that the individual must successfully resolve in order to proceed normally to the next stage-for example, identity versus confusion in adolescence. The concept of the identity crisis is now firmly embedded in psychiatric theory. Erikson also studied the relationship between a person's life and the times in which he or she lives; and his historical-biographical studies of Luther and Gandhi are outstanding products of this inquiry. Erikson taught at Harvard University for 30 years
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Results: Higher levels of impulsivity, lifetime history of aggression, and novelty seeking were associated with younger age of death by suicide, while increasing levels of harm avoidance were associated with increasing age of suicide. This effect was observed after accounting for age-related psychopathology (current and lifetime depressive disorders, lifetime anxiety disorders, current and lifetime substance abuse disorders, psychotic disorders and cluster B personality disorders). Age effects were not due to the characteristics of informants, and such effects were not observed among living controls. When directly controlling for major psychopathology, the interaction between age, levels of impulsivity, aggression and novelty seeking predicted suicide status while controlling for the independent contributions of age and these traits.
Following Erik's birth, Karla trained to be a nurse and moved to Karlsruhe, Germany. In 1905 she married a 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 wrote 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.
When Erikson was twenty-five, his friend Peter Blos invited him to Vienna to tutor art 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.[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.
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 tribes. This marked the beginning of Erikson's life passion of showing the importance of events in childhood and how society affects them.
Erikson is credited with being one of the originators of ego psychology, which emphasized 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, he rarely mentioned a stage of development by age. In fact he referred to it as a prolonged adolescence which has led to further investigation into a period of development between adolescence and young adulthood called emerging adulthood. Erikson's theory of development includes various psychosocial crises where each conflict builds off of the previous stages. The result of each conflict can have negative or positive impacts on a person's development, however, a negative outcome can be revisited and readdressed throughout the life span. 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.
The Erikson life-stages, in order of the eight stages in which they may be acquired, are listed below, as well as the \"virtues\" that Erikson has attached to these stages, (these virtues are underlined).
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.
The Eriksons had four children: Kai T. Erikson, Jon Erikson, Sue Erikson Bloland, and Neil Erikson. His eldest son, Kai T. Erikson, is an American sociologist. Their daughter, Sue, \"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.
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