Eric Erickson was a psychologist who studied under and was influenced by Sigmund Freud. Erikson developed the psychosocial theory of personality development which suggests that every individual passes through different stages in life from birth through death. One of the main aspects of his theory is ego identity, the conscious sense of self humans are given at birth and develop through life’s social interactions. Erickson submits that during these stages humans face conflict and there is a predominate issue which may or may not be successfully negotiated. It is the successful completion of each stage where humans learn skills that will assist with the effective completion of future stages. Erickson believed that current thinking and feeling patterns reflect earlier unresolved or resolved developmental issues. I will explore and evaluate Erickson’s theory using three criteria; scientific worthiness, developmental adequacy, and pedagogical usefulness. I will also show how understanding Erickson’s theory can be useful in assisting clients through the difficult process of recovery.
Description of Erickson’s Theory:
Erickson’s theory is grounded in aspects of personality given at birth, ego identity. Erickson’s ego derives no energy from the id and as such there is no intrapsychic conflict. He also suggests that there is no antagonism between ego and id (Green and Piel).
Erickson uses the following internal principles which are different from Freud. Ego is conflict free and functioning independently from the Id. In addition, ego is more differentiated and influential in its intrapsychic functions. Finally his theory is perfectly clear, ego’s id-autonomous evolution and transformations occur throughout the life...
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...pment” (Vogel-Scibilia et al., 2009). Recovery is a lifelong process, which will be served well from the tools that Erikson defined in his theory, his epigenetic principle, “the biological blueprint that dictates how the organism grows and reaches maturity . . . the changes in the social expectations of a society to structure the person’s adaptation to his or her environment” (Ashford & LeCroy, n.d.).
In the future I will use Erikson’s psychosocial theory to suggest interventions, to identify problem areas that may need addressed, to develop follow-on theories which speak to specific race, class, gender, or presenting problem, and to suggest solutions to assist marginalized live full and productive lives.
“Identity formation neither begins nor ends with adolescence: it is a lifelong development largely unconscious to the individual and to his society”. Erik Erikson
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