|Erik Homburger Erikson|
|Born:||1902 - Germany|
|Died:||1994 - Harwich, Massachusetts|
|Education:||Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute|
|Achievements:||One of the most important of the developmental psychologists Erik Erikson's concepts of development examine the individual's entire lifespan.|
Upon graduation from Germany's equivalent of high school, Erik Erikson decided to pursue an artistic path. Wandering across Europe, he recorded his observations in etchings and woodcuts as well as in the written word. He enrolled in a succession of art schools and became accomplished enough to have several exhibitions of his work. The turning point in his career came when he settled into teaching at a school for American children. It happened that many of the children's parents had come to Vienna for analysis with Sigmund Freud.
Erikson met Freud and his family and was attracted to them both personally and professionally. He entered the prestigious Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute, first as a subject of analysis by Anna Freud, Sigmund's daughter, and then as her student. Erikson has acknowledged that much of his theoretical work on identity crisis was influenced by his own feelings of alienation and confusion. With the political scene deteriorating in Europe as Hitler's power increased, Erikson left for the United States in 1933, where he joined the faculty of the Harvard Medical School and opened Boston's first psychoanalyst practice for children.
At Harvard, Erikson worked on integrating psychoanalysis with psychology and anthropology, while retaining an emphasis on child development. His research evolved into a groundbreaking theory of eight psychosocial stages, each marked by a conflict or crisis, through which individuals develop during the course of life. Erikson regarded these crises as turning points that must be resolved if one is to enjoy healthy psychosocial development.
With Freud, Erikson was one of the most influential champions of the psychodynamic perspective. Although he began as a student and follower of Freudian psychoanalysis, Erikson's most significant contributions arose when he departed from the Freudian focus on the period from infancy to adolescence and extended the study of development to encompass the rest of the lifespan. The notion that people continue to develop throughout the lifespan has had great impact on the study of development and deepened our understanding of the aging process.