Key Terms and Concepts

Chapter 9 Erikson: Post-Freudian Theory 241

As a child, Erik Salomonsen had many questions but few answers about his biological father. He knew who his mother was—a beautiful Jewish Dane whose family tried hard to appear Danish rather than Jewish. But who was his father?

Bom mto a single-parent family, the young boy held three separate beliefs regarding his origins. At first, he believed that his mother's husband a physician named Theodor Homburger, was his biological father. However, as Erik matured he began to realize that tins was mcorrect because his blond hair and blue eyes did not match the dark features of either parent. He pressed his mother for an explanation, but she lied to him and said that a man named Valdemar Salomonsen—her first husband— was his biological father and that he abandoned her after she became pregnant with Erik. However, Erik didn't quite believe this second story either because he learned that Salomonsen had left Ins mother 4 years before Erik was born. Finally, Erik chose to believe that he was the outcome of a sexual liaison between his mother and an artistically gifted aristocratic Dane. For nearly the remainder of his life, Erik believed this third story. Nevertheless, he continued to search for his own identity while seeking the name of his biological father.

During his school days, Erik's Scandinavian features contributed to Ins identity confusion. When he attended temple, his blue eyes and blond hair made him appear to be an outsider. At public school, his Aryan classmates referred to him as a Jew, so Erik felt out of place in both arenas. Throughout his life, he had difficulty accepting himself as either a Jew or a Gentile.

When his mother died Erik, then 58 years old feared he would never know the identity of his biological father. But he persevered hi Ins search. Finally, more than 30 years later and as his mind and body began to deteriorate, Erik lost hiterest in learning his father's name. However, he continued to show some identity confusion. For example, he spoke mostly hi German—the language of his youth, and rarely spoke in English—Ins primary language for more than 60 years, hi addition, he retained a long-held affinity for Demnark and the Danish people and took perverted pride in displaying the flag of Demnark, a country hi which he never lived.

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