Essay about Erik Erikson and Post-Freudian Theory

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Erik Erikson was born in 1902 near Frankfort, Germany to an unmarried Jewish mother. He was raised in an artists colony by his mother and eventually he would have his pediatrician as a stepfather, however, Erikson would seek his biological father’s identity throughout his life. (Capps, Mother, melancholia, and humor in Erik H. Erikson's earliest writings, 2008). In 1929, Erikson began psychoanalysis with Anna Freud and in 1933, he and his wife and children emigrated first to Denmark and then to the United States (Capps, Mother, melancholia, and humor in Erik H. Erikson's earliest writings, 2008). In the United States, Erikson would change jobs many times, taking research positions at Massachusetts General Hospital and at the Harvard …show more content…
Successful resolution of the problems presented in each stage was, to Erikson, the path to a mature personality. The conflict to be resolved in each lifecycle is reminiscent of a virtue or a vice, which Erikson described as weaknesses. (Hoare, 2009) Conn uses Erikson’s conflicts to illustrate the formation of ethics (Conn, 1977).
In the first stage, which he called infancy, the conflict was basic trust vs. basic mistrust, from which hope emerges with successful resolution of the conflict (Feist & Feist, 2009). Donald Capps, in his article Mother, Melancholia and Play in Erik H. Erikson’s Childhood and Society, gives the example of Erikson’s patient Jean, who, as an infant, was removed from her mother due to her mother’s illness. Jean was unable to successfully resolve her basic trust vs. basic mistrust conflict and, as a result, she was withdrawn and never fully recovered to a state of good mental health (Capps, Mother, melancholia, and play in Erik H. Erikson's Childhood and Society, 2007). This contrasts with another child, Freud’s grandson, who resolved his basic trust vs. basic mistrust conflict successfully by playing the game that he named gone and there. This game helped the child later in childhood, when his mother passed while he was still very young, helping him to cope with his mother’s death (Capps, Mother, melancholia, and play in Erik H. Erikson's Childhood and Society, 2007). Resolution of this conflict is the first
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