Eric Erikson Childhood and Society


Eric Erikson became acquainted with Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund Freud. Erikson underwent psychoanalysis, and the experience made him decide to become an analyst himself. He was trained in psychoanalysis at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute.   His son became a sociologist.   He was one of the first persons to develop a comprehensive theory of the human life cycle in a profoundly important book entitled Childhood and Society.  Although most of his book stressed the psychiatric dimension of the human experience, he clearly integrate many important sociological elements.   Following is a VERY brief summary of his book:


Infant -- Trust vs Mistrust    Needs maximum comfort with minimal uncertainty to trust himself/herself, others, and the environment

Toddler -- Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt    Works to master physical environment while maintaining self-esteem

Preschooler -- Initiative vs Guilt   Begins to initiate, not imitate, activities; develops conscience and sexual identity

School-Age Child -- Industry vs Inferiority   Tries to develop a sense of self-worth by refining skills

Adolescent -- Identity vs Role Confusion   Tries integrating many roles (child, sibling, student, athlete, worker) into a self-image under role model and peer pressure

Young Adult -- Intimacy vs Isolation   Learns to make personal commitment to another as spouse, parent or partner

Middle-Age Adult -- Generativity vs Stagnation   Seeks satisfaction through productivity in career, family, and civic interests

Older Adult -- Integrity vs Despair    Reviews life accomplishments, deals with loss and preparation for death