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Analyzing Erik Erikson Essay

1466 words - 6 pages

Analyzing Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson brought to the field of psychology a great insight development of person through ones lifespan with his well-known concepts, the Stages of psychosocial development, as well as his Identity crisis at each stage. For Erikson, his theories were influenced by his childhood and his obsession over his identity. It led to the development of his theories. Erikson was born June 15, 1902 in Frankfurt, Germany. He never saw his birth father or his mother's first husband. His young Jewish mother raised Erik by herself for a time before marrying a physician, Dr. Theodor Homberger. The fact that Homberger was not in fact his biological father was held from him for ...view middle of the document...

His interest in identity was further developed based upon his own experiences in school. Being of mixed ethnicity, which showed in his physique and mother’s Jewish background gave him a hard time socially. At his temple school, the other children teased him for being Nordic because he was tall, blonde, and blue-eyed. At grammar school, he was rejected because of his Jewish background. These early experiences helped fuel his interest in identity formation and continued to influence his work throughout his life.(Cherry)
Erik Erikson the father of psychoanalysis has made a contribution to the field of psychology with his developmental theory. He can be compared to Sigmund Freud in that he claimed that humans develop in stages. Freud believes that events in our childhood can have a significant impact on our behavior as adults, which is in fact evident in Erikson. According to Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behavior and experience, even though we are unaware of these underlying influences. Finding out that his biological father is not Dr. Homberger left him in a loss of identity. After settling down with his wife, he moved and became a U.S citizen, soon thereafter he changed his surname. It is not clear why he changed his surname, but we can deduce that it was to gain a sense of identity and his defense mechanisms working to deter insecurity. As explained by Freud, In order to deal with conflict and problems in life, Freud stated that the ego employs a range of defense mechanisms.  Defense mechanisms operate at an unconscious level and help ward off unpleasant feelings (i.e. anxiety) or make good things feel better for the individual. We use defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from feelings of anxiety or guilt, which arise because we feel threatened, or because our id or superego becomes too demanding. When they get out of proportion, neuroses develop, such as anxiety states, phobias, obsessions, or hysteria.(McLeod) There are many defense mechanisms described by Freud, but one mechanism I feel portrays Erikson is sublimation. Sublimation is satisfying an impulse with a substitute object in a socially acceptable way, also evident throughout his life’s work and the changing of his surname.(McLeod 2008)
On the other hand, Humanistic psychologists look at human behavior not only through the eyes of the observer, but through the eyes of the person doing the behaving. Humanistic psychologists believe that an individual's behavior is connected to his inner feelings and self-image. The humanistic perspective centers on the view that each person is unique and individual and has the free will to change at any time in his or her life. Erikson also took a teaching position at a school created by Dorothy Burlingham, a friend of Anna Freud's. He continued to work with Burlingham and Freud at the school for several years, met Sigmund Freud at a party, and even became Anna Freud's patient. "Psychoanalysis was not so formal then," he...

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