Erik Erikson - Psychology and Childhood
Erik Erikson (1902-94)
German-born American psychologist (pictured right), famous for:
- explaining how people develop as human beings.
- his concept of “identity crisis”.
His most famous book
Childhood and Society (1950).
What did he teach us about psychology and childhood?
1. Eight stages in your
a) the first four stages
These finish with your teenage years, when an identity crisis is likely.
This happens because teenagers (independently of their parents) are trying to work out their:
b) the last four stages
These begin around the age of 20, when you learn about love and
self-esteem through family, friends and peers.
You may be lonely due to fear of rejection, but marriage and
children will give you companionship and purpose.
2. Identity crisis
This occurs when you lose your sense of:
- who you are and how you relate to others (self-image).
- what you believe in (values).
- what your purpose is in life.
This crisis starts in your teenage years (see point 1) and is becoming more common, as the
world changes faster than people’s ability to cope with it.
3. Parents are powerful
Their support and encouragement develop in a child:
- the will and courage to be independent, creative and morally
- reward unconditional love.
- punish implicit hatred or resentment from their parents.
4. Time is precious
- use your time as creatively and effectively as possible,
- find the right balance between work, leisure and love.
5. Morals are mighty
The happiest people:
- are socially responsible.
Their principles give them the wisdom and courage to overcome life’s problems like aging,
despair and fear of death.
Key quotes on family and children
Children love and want to be loved.
The most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit.
Key quote on time management
The richest and fullest lives attempt to achieve an inner balance between three realms: work, love and play.
Key quote on positive thinking
If life is to be sustained, hope must remain.