The person we introduced in the opening vignette, of course, was Erik Erikson, the person who corned the term identity crisis. Erikson had no college degree of any kind but tins lack of formal training did not prevent him from gaining world fame in an impressive variety of fields including psychoanalysis; anthropology; psy-chohistory; and education.
Unlike earlier psychodynamic theorists who severed nearly all ties to Freudian psychoanalysis, Erikson intended his theory of personality to extend rather than repudiate Freud's assumptions and to offer a new "way of looking at things" (Erikson, 1963, p. 403). His post-Freudian theory extended Freud's infantile developmental stages hito adolescence, adulthood and old age. Erikson suggested that at each stage a specific psychosocial struggle contributes to the formation of personality. From adolescence on, that struggle takes the form of an identity crisis—a turning pohit hi one's life that may either strengthen or weaken personality.
Erikson regarded his post-Freudian theory as an extension of psychoanalysis, something Freud might have done hi time. Although he used Freudian theory as the foiuidation for his life-cycle approach to personality, Erikson differed from Freud in several respects. In addition to elaborating on psychosexual stages beyond childhood, Erikson placed more emphasis on both social and historical influences.
Erikson's post-Freudian theory, like those of other personality theorists, is a reflection of his background, a background that included art, extensive travels, experiences with a variety of cultures, and a lifelong search for his own identity, which we mentioned briefly in our opening story.
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