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 Respond to all three questions in 175+ words (total):

  1. Which of the 4 theorists’ views from the list above is most similar to Freud’s theories? Why?
  2. Which differs the most? Why?
  3. Which of these 4 views is most similar to yours? Why?

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?Born into 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 this was incorrect 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 his 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 his 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 in his search. Finally, more than 30 years later and as his mind and body began to deteriorate, Erik lost interest in learning his father’s name. However, he continued to show some identity confusion. For example, he spoke mostly in German—the language of his youth—and rarely spoke in English, his primary language for more than 60 years. In addition, he retained a long-held affinity for Denmark and the Danish people and took perverted pride in displaying the flag of Denmark, a country in which he never lived.Overview of Post-Freudian TheoryThe person we introduced in the opening vignette, of course, was Erik Erikson, the person who coined the term identity crisis. Erikson had no college degree of any kind, but this lack of formal training did not prevent him from gaining world fame in an impressive variety of fields including psychoanalysis, anthropology, psychohistory, 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 into 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 point in 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 in time. Although he used Freudian theory as the page 208foundation 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.Biography of Erik EriksonWho was Erik Erikson? Was he a Dane, a German, or an American? Jew or Gentile? Artist or psychoanalyst? Erikson himself had difficulty answering these questions, and he spent nearly a lifetime trying to determine who he was.Born on June 15, 1902, in southern Germany, Erikson was brought up by his mother and stepfather, but he remained uncertain of the true identity of his biological father. To discover his niche in life, Erikson ventured away from home during late adolescence, adopting the life of a wandering artist and poet. After nearly 7 years of drifting and searching, he returned home confused, exhausted, depressed, and unable to sketch or paint. At this time, a fortuitous event changed his life: He received a letter from his friend Peter Blos inviting him to teach children in a new school in Vienna. One of the founders of the school was Anna Freud, who became not only Erikson’s employer, but his psychoanalyst as well.While undergoing analytic treatment, he stressed to Anna Freud that his most difficult problem was searching for the identity of his biological father. However, Ms. Freud was less than empathic and told Erikson that he should stop fantasizing about his absent father. Although Erikson usually obeyed his psychoanalyst, he could not take Freud’s advice to stop trying to learn his father’s name.While in Vienna, Erikson met and, with Anna Freud’s permission, married Joan Serson, a Canadian-born dancer, artist, and teacher who had also undergone psychoanalysis. With her psychoanalytic background and her facility with the English language, she became a valuable editor and occasional coauthor of Erikson’s books.The Eriksons had four children: sons Kai, Jon, and Neil and daughter Sue. Kai and Sue pursued important professional careers, but Jon, who shared his father’s experience as a wandering artist, worked as a laborer and never felt emotionally close to his parents.Erikson’s search for identity took him through some difficult experiences during his adult developmental stage (Friedman, 1999). According to Erikson, this stage requires a person to take care of children, products, and ideas that he or she has generated. On this issue, Erikson was deficient in meeting his own standards. He failed to take good care of his son Neil, who was born with Down syndrome. At the hospital while Joan was still under sedation, Erik agreed to place Neil in an institution. Then he went home and told his three older children that their brother had died at birth. He lied to them much as his mother had lied to him about the identity of his biological father. Later, he told his oldest son, Kai, the truth, but he continued to deceive the two younger children, Jon and Sue. Although his mother’s lie had distressed him greatly, he failed to understand that his lie about Neil might later distress his other children. In deceiving his children the way he did, Erikson violated two of his own principles: page 209“Don’t lie to people you should care for,” and “Don’t pit one family member against another.” To compound the situation, when Neil died at about age 20, the Eriksons, who were in Europe at the time, called Sue and Jon and instructed them to handle all the funeral arrangements for a brother they had never met and who they only recently knew existed (Friedman, 1999).Erikson also sought his identity through the myriad changes of jobs and places of residence. Lacking any academic credentials, he had no specific professional identity and was variously known as an artist, a psychologist, a psychoanalyst, a clinician, a professor, a cultural anthropologist, an existentialist, a psychobiographer, and a public intellectual.In 1933, with fascism on the rise in Europe, Erikson and his family left Vienna for Denmark, hoping to gain Danish citizenship. When Danish officials refused his request, he left Copenhagen and immigrated to the United States.In America, he changed his name from Homburger to Erikson. This change was a crucial turning point in his life because it represented a retreat from his earlier Jewish identification. Originally, Erikson resented any implication that he was abandoning his Jewish identity by changing his name. He countered these charges by pointing out that he used his full name—Erik Homburger Erikson—in his books and essays. However, as time passed, he dropped his middle name and replaced it with the initial H. Thus, this person who at the end of life was known as Erik H. Erikson had previously been called Erik Salomonsen, Erik Homburger, and Erik Homburger Erikson.In America, Erikson continued his pattern of moving from place to place. He first settled in the Boston area where he set up a modified psychoanalytic practice. With neither medical credentials nor any kind of college degree, he accepted research positions at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard Psychological Clinic.Wanting to write but needing more time than his busy schedule in Boston and Cambridge allowed, Erikson took a position at Yale in 1936, but after 21/2 years, he moved to the University of California at Berkeley, but not before living among and studying people of the Sioux nation on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. He later lived with people of the Yurok nation in northern California, and these experiences in cultural anthropology added to the richness and completeness of his concept of humanity.During his California period, Erikson gradually evolved a theory of personality, separate from but not incompatible with Freud’s. In 1950, Erikson published Childhood and Society, a book that at first glance appears to be a hodgepodge of unrelated chapters. Erikson himself originally had some difficulty finding a common theme underlying such topics as childhood in two Native American tribes, the growth of the ego, the eight stages of human development, and Hitler’s childhood. Eventually, however, he recognized that the influence of psychological, cultural, and historical factors on identity was the underlying element that held the various chapters together. Childhood and Society, which became a classic and gave Erikson an international reputation as an imaginative thinker, remains the finest introduction to his post-Freudian personality theory.In 1949, the University of California officials demanded that faculty members sign an oath pledging loyalty to the United States. Such a demand was not uncommon during those days when Senator Joseph McCarthy convinced many Americans that Communists and Communist sympathizers were poised to overthrow the page 210U.S. government. Erikson was not a Communist, but as a matter of principle he refused to sign the oath. Although the Committee on Privilege and Tenure recommended that he retain his position, Erikson left California and returned to Massachusetts, where he worked as a therapist at Austen Riggs, a treatment center for psychoanalytic training and research located in Stockbridge. In 1960, he returned to Harvard and, for the next 10 years, held the position of professor of human development. After retirement, Erikson continued an active career—writing, lecturing, and seeing a few patients. During the early years of his retirement, he lived in Marin County, California; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Cape Cod. Through all these changes, Erikson continued to seek his father’s name. He died on May 12, 1994, at the age of 91.Who was Erik Erikson? Although he himself may not have been able to answer this question, other people can learn about the person known as Erik Erikson through his brilliantly constructed books, lectures, and essays.Erikson’s best-known works include Childhood and Society (1950, 1963, 1985); Young Man Luther (1958); Identity: Youth and Crisis (1968); Gandhi’s Truth (1969), a book that won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; Dimensions of a New Identity (1974); Life History and the Historical Moment (1975); Identity and the Life Cycle (1980); and The Life Cycle Completed (1982). Stephen Schlein compiled many of his papers in A Way of Looking at Things (Erikson, 1987).The Ego in Post-Freudian TheoryIn Chapter 2, we pointed out that Freud used the analogy of a rider on horseback to describe the relationship between the ego and the id. The rider (ego) is ultimately at the mercy of the stronger horse (id). The ego has no strength of its own but must borrow its energy from the id. Moreover, the ego is constantly attempting to balance blind demands of the superego against the relentless forces of the id and the realistic opportunities of the external world. Freud believed that, for psychologically healthy people, the ego is sufficiently developed to rein in the id, even though its control is still tenuous and id impulses might erupt and overwhelm the ego at any time.In contrast, Erikson held that our ego is a positive force that creates a self- identity, a sense of “I.” As the center of our personality, our ego helps us adapt to the various conflicts and crises of life and keeps us from losing our individuality to the leveling forces of society. During childhood, the ego is weak, pliable, and fragile; but by adolescence it should begin to take form and gain strength. Throughout our life, it unifies personality and guards against indivisibility. Erikson saw the ego as a partially unconscious organizing agency that synthesizes our present experiences with past self-identities and also with anticipated images of self. He defined the ego as a person’s ability to unify experiences and actions in an adaptive manner (Erikson, 1963).Erikson (1968) identified three interrelated aspects of ego: the body ego, the ego ideal, and ego identity. The body ego refers to experiences with our body; a way of seeing our physical self as different from other people. We may be satisfied or dissatisfied with the way our body looks and functions, but we recognize that it is the only body we will ever have. The ego ideal represents the image we have of ourselves in comparison with an established ideal; it is responsible for our being satisfied or dissatisfied not only with our physical self but also with our entire personal identity. Ego identity is the image we have of ourselves in the variety of social roles we play. page 211Although adolescence is ordinarily the time when these three components are changing most rapidly, alterations in body ego, ego ideal, and ego identity can and do take place at any stage of life.

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