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Erik Erikson1

Critically evaluate Erikson's psychosocial theory Newberry Erik Erickson is possibly the best known of Sigmunds Freuds many followers. He grew up in Europe and spent his young adult life under the direction of Freud. In 1933 when Hitler rose to power in Germany, Erikson emigrated to the United States and began teaching at Harvard University. His clinical work and studies were based on children, college students, victims of combat fatigue during World War two, civil rights workers, and American Indians. It was these studies which led Erikson to believe that Freud misjudged some important dimensions of human development. Throughout this essay, Eriksons psychosocial model will be explored, discussed and evaluated interms of its concepts, theories and assumptions. The theoretical underpinning will be discussed with reference to the nature versus nurture debate and also the continuity versus discontinuity argument. It will then be shown how Erikson has influenced the way psychologists view the importance of identity during adolescents. Firstly, however, Eriksons work will be put alongside that of Freuds to establish an understanding of the basis from which it came. Eriksons psychosocial model was heavily influenced by Freud, and shares a number of central ideas. For example, both Freud and Erikson agree that every individual is born with a number of basic instincts, that development occurs through stages, and that the order of these stages is influenced by biological maturation (Sigelman, and Shaffer 1992). Erikson also believes, as did Freud, that personality has three components: the id, the ego, and the superego. Therefore it is fair to say that Erikson is a psychoanalytic theorist. However, Erikson does argue that social and cultural influences have a critical role in shaping human development, and less significance should be placed on the role of sexual urges. Freud did note however, that social agents such as parents should be regar...

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