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Meet Erik Erikson, The Brain Behind The Theory On Psychological Development Of Human Beings

Meet Erik Erikson, The Brain Behind The Theory On Psychological Development Of Human Beings
Erik Homburger Erikson was a German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst best known for his theory on psychological development of human beings.
In a review of  General Psychology survey, Erikson was ranked as the 12th most cited psychologist of the 20th century. One amazing fact about this man is that despite not having a bachelor's degree, he served as a professor at prominent institutions, including University of California, Yale, Harvard and Berkeley.

Erik Erikson was born on the 15th of June, 1902 in Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany. His mother, Karla Abrahamsen was married to a Jewish stockbroker, Valdemar Isidor Salomonsen, but had been estranged from him for several months at the time Erik was conceived.

On discovering that she was pregnant, Karla fled fled to Frankfurt am Main in Germany where Erik was born. Not much is know about Erikson's biological dad, except that he was a non-Jewish Dane.

Karla trained to be a nurse after Erikson's birth and moved to Karlsruhe. In 1905, she got married to Theodor Homburger, Erik's Jewish pediatrician. Six years after the marriage, Erik Salomonsen became officially adopted by his stepfather.

Psychoanalytic Experience And Training

After Erik Erikson;s 25th birthday, 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.

During the course of the teaching, Anna observed 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.

In 1933 Erik Erikson 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.

Erik Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development

The Erikson's theory of personality described the impact of social experience across the whole lifespan. For example, in the intimacy vs isolation stage (which he described as first stage of adult development), Erikson described happenings like dating, marriage, family and friendships as very important in helping individuals achieve the virtue of love.
The Erikson life-stage virtues, in order of the eight stages in which they may be acquired, are:
• Trust vs. Mistrust: This stage covers the period of infancy (0–18 months), which is the most fundamental stage of life. It is at this period that the baby develops basic trust or basic mistrust is not merely a matter of nurture. 
• Autonomy vs. Shame: This stage covers the early childhood (around 1–3 years old) and at this stage, child begins to discover the beginnings of his or her independence, and parents must facilitate the child's sense of doing basic tasks "all by himself/herself."
• Initiative vs. Guilt: This stage covers the preschool stage (3–5 years), when children start interacting with their peers and creating their own games and activities. If the child is allowed to make decisions at this stage, it'll help him develop confidence and the ability to lead others.
• Industry vs. Inferiority: It covers the school-age (6–11 years), when the child might start comparing his self-worth to others. The child can recognise major disparities in personal abilities relative to other children.
Erik Erikson places some emphasis on the teacher, who should ensure that children do not feel inferior. Also, during this stage, the child's friend group increases in importance in his life.
• Identity vs. Role Confusion: This covers the adolescent stage (12–18 years) and your child might start exploring and seeking for her own unique identity. This is done by looking at personal beliefs, goals, and values.
At this stage, an individual's morality is also explored and developed. Erikson believes that if the parents allow the child to explore, she will determine her own identity.
• Intimacy vs. Isolation: The intimacy versus isolation is the first stage of adult development and comes immediately after the stage of adolescence.  Dating, marriage, family and friendships are important during the stage in their life.
By successfully forming loving relationships with other people, individuals are able to experience love and intimacy.They also feel safety, care, and commitment in these relationships.
• Generativity vs. Stagnation: Generativity versus stagnation is the seventh of eight stages of Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development and takes place during during middle adulthood (ages 40 to 65 years).  During this time people are normally settled in their lives and know what is important to them.
At this stage, we give back to society through raising our children, being productive at work, and becoming involved in community activities and organisations. Through generativity we develop a sense of being a part of the bigger picture.
• Ego Integrity vs. Despair: This is the eighth and final stage of Erik Erikson’s stage theory of psychosocial development and approximately begins at age 65 and ends at death. During this time an individual has reached the last chapter in her life and retirement is approaching or has already taken place.
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