Erik Erickson is possibly the best known of Sigmunds Freud’s 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, Erikson’s psychosocial model will be explored,
discussed and evaluated interms of it’s 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, Erikson’s work will be put alongside that of
Freud’s to establish an understanding of the basis from which it came.
Erikson’s 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
regarded as important, but it is...
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