Upon completion of this unit, the student should:
Erik Erikson, while considered a neo-Freudian, felt that Freud was remiss in simply focusing on neurotic personalities and ignoring healthy development. Erikson moved the field forward by attempting to identify characteristics of the healthy personality. And while he agreed with the psychosexual stages of Freud’s theory, he felt it was incomplete in the following ways: (1) Freud ignored socialization of the child and its influence on human behaviors; and (2) Freud’s theory addressed development only through adolescence and failed to acknowledge adult development. Erikson described four additional levels of development.
The major thesis of Erikson’s work was the concept of achieving “ego identity.” Erikson described a dialectical process–a conflict between two opposing forces–at each stage of development that resulted in an ego strength or failure, depending on how well the stage was negotiated.
Erikson then suggested that the individual comes full circle, and as they near the end of their lives and contemplate not being, they once again develop a sense of hope.
Erikson’s theory has been one of the most useful in terms of understanding human development over the life span as well as generating research. “Eriksonian” research typically focuses on some aspect of ego development. The theory makes logical sense to the general population, in that its concepts are logical and understandable. One can see how an individual’s personal development, coupled with interactions with important others in his/her life, contribute to the ego strengths described by Erikson.
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,Application of Human Development Theories