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Importance in Psychology

06/01/06

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Why is Erik Erikson Important in Psychology?

           

Erik Erikson can best be described as a Freudian ego-psychologist. This simply means that he was able to accept some of Freud’s theories or concepts, such as the Oedipal complex and some of the theories concerning the ego, and acknowledge that they were somewhat correct. One reason why he is so famous among Freudians and non-Freudians is the fact that he was much more society and culture-oriented than the rest of theorists of that time. He stood out because he often pursued areas such as the unconscious and instincts as well. His most famous work involves the refinement and further expanding the work of Freud.

            Erikson is mostly remembered in Psychology for his Theory of Socioemotional Development, which is also referred to as the Developmental Stages. Although he was influenced by Sigmund Freud, Erikson went on to organize life into eight stages that extend from birth up until death. What made him distinguished amongst the rest of the psychologists was that several developmental theories at the time merely covered childhood and they did not mention any type of research involving adulthood. Erikson was well aware of this, which is the reason why he developed the stages of adulthood. What he also kept in mind was that adulthood covers a span of many years, which was the main reason why there are more than just one stage in adulthood. He divided adulthood up into the experiences of young adults, middle-aged adults, and older adults. Erikson’s primary philosophy is believed to rest on two of the most significant themes and they are as follows: 1) “the world gets bigger as we go along” and 2) “failure is cumulative.” The first theme seems to be self-explanatory and one can easily figure it out. The second however, is much more complicated than one can imagine. For instance, in various cases a person that has to deal with horrible conditions as a child and may not be able to transmit the later stages without difficulty as someone who did not have those challenges early on in their life. Another example would be an orphan who was not held or stroked as an infant. This individual will then grow up having an enormously tough time connecting with other individuals and is even at risk for dying from the need of human contact. Erikson is also accredited for creating the notion of Ego Psychology. In this psychology, Erikson stressed that the function of the ego as being much more than just merely the servant to the id. He strongly believed that it was in fact the ego’s obligation to sort out one’s life and to present a basis of both identity and self-awareness.

 

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