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Chapter 7 Erikson Post-Freudian Theory

Chapter 7: Erikson Post-Freudian Theory
Overview of Post-Freudian Theory
-Erikson had no college degree, but that did not prevent him from gaining world fame in an
impressive variety of fields including psychoanalysis, anthropology, psychohistory, and
-Coined the term identity crisis.
-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 struggles contributes to the
foundation of personality.
-Greater emphasis on both social and historical influences.
The Ego in Post-Freudian Theory
-Erikson held that our ego is a positive force that creates a self-identity (a sense of I)
-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.
-He defined the ego as a person’s ability to unify experiences and actions in an adaptive
-Erikson defined three interrelated aspects of ego: the body ego, the ego ideal, and ego identity.
-Body ego refers to experiences with our body; a way of seeing our physical self as
different from other people.
-Ego ideal represents the image we have of ourselves in comparison with an established
ideal; it’s responsible for being satisfied or dissatisfied not only with our physical self, but with
our entire personal identity.
-Ego identity is the image we have of ourselves in the variety of social roles we play.
Social Influence
-Erikson’s emphasis on social and historical factors was in contrast with Freud’s mostly
biological viewpoint.
-To erikson, the ego exists as potential at birth, but it must emerge from a cultural environment.
-Pseudospecies: an illusion perpetrated and perpetuated by a particular society that it is
somehow chosen to be the human species.
Epigenetic Principle
-Epigenetic development implies a step-by-step growth of fetal organs.
-The embryo does not begin as a completely formed little person, rather it develops, according
to a predetermined rate and in a fixed sequence.
-Epigenesis means that one characteristic develops on top of another in space and time.
Stages of Psychosocial Development
-Growth takes place according to the epigenetic principle.
-Each stage of development emerges from and is built upon a previous stage.
-Every stage of life there is an interaction of opposites---that is, a conflict between a syntonic
(harmonious) element and a dystonic (disruptive) element.
-Ex. During infancy, basic trust (syntonic tendency) is opposed to basic mistrust (dystonic
tendency). Both trust and mistrust, however, are necessary for proper adaptation. An infant who
learns to only to trust becomes gullible and is ill prepared for the realities encountered in later
-Conflict between dystonic and syntonic elements produces an ego quality or ego strength.
-Too little basic strength at any stage results in core pathology for that stage. Ex. Kid who does
not acquire sufficient hope during infancy will develop withdraw.
-Erikson referred to his 8 stages as psychosocial stages, he never lost sight of the biological
aspect of human development.
-Ego identity is shaped by a multiplicity of conflicts and events-- past, present, and anticipated.
Stage 1 - Infancy
-1st psychological stage.
-This stage correlates to Freud’s oral stage but was expanded by Erickson to become the
oral-sensory mode.
-​By experiencing both want and improvement, the infant will develop a future expectation
regarding a world imbued with satisfactory outcomes. If they do not develop sufficient hope,
based on reliable attention to their needs they will develop the core pathology of ​withdrawal.​
Oral-Sensory Mode
-Characterized by two modes of incorporation---receiving and accepting what is given.
-​This is the stage when children are learning to trust, relying on others for their
food and comfort. This is also the stage highlighted by a mother's nurturing and
cuddling. The oral aspect of the stage refers concretely to the breast-feeding of the
young infant, which is their first interaction with the world around...
Stage 2 - Early Childhood
-Young children receive pleasure not only from mastering the sphincter muscle, but also from
mastering addition, children develop a sense of control over their interpersonal environment, as
well as a measure of self-control.
-If parents are properly encouraging they will move through this stage with a healthy balanced
view of their abilities and develop the basic strength of​ will.​ If they are repeated shamed in their
attempts, or continually undermined by over-assistance in their endeavors they may develop the
core pathology of ​compulsion​.
Anal-Urethral-Muscular Muscle
-During the 2nd year of life, children’s primary psychosexual adjustment is the
anal-urethral-muscular muscle.
-At this time, children learn to control their body, especially in relation to cleanliness and
Stage 3 - Play Age
-Ages 3 to 5
-Erikson believed that the Oedipus complex is but one of several important developments during
the play age.
-Young children may have a childhood desire to marry one of their parents and as this is
contrasted with guilt surrounding social taboos they will hopefully emerge with the basic strength
of a refined sense of purpose.
-In addition to identifying with their parents, preschool-age children are developing locomotion,
language skills, curiosity, imagination and ability to set goals.
Stage 4—School Age:​
covers from around age 6-12 and is a time of significant social growth.
learn to accomplish tasks and prepare for work through the tasks of school and continuing play.
The crisis is between a syntonic feeling of industry and a dystonic concession to inferiority. The
basic strength that will emerge if the syntonic is favored is ​competence​. If the dystonic is
favored they may regress to a core pathology of​ inertia​. Erickson, like Freud saw this as a
period Psychosexual latency.
Stage 5—Adolescent:
-​The crisis presented at puberty is one of identity versus identity confusion.
-Teenagers are discovering how they want to be and what they believe within a social context.
-They are either affirmed by peers and by the situations established within these contexts and
develop the basic strength of ​fidelity o
​ r if they are repudiated by their peers and overly
obstructed by their parents in their goal-formation this may lead to the basic pathology ​role
repudiation.​ In consideration of the recalcitrant nature of teens it is not surprising that some
repudiation by their parents can actually strengthen fidelity.
-Erickson said little about sexual maturation.
-Puberty is important psychologically because it triggers expectations of adult roles yet
ahead-- roles that are essentially social and can be filled only through a struggle to attain
ego identity.
Stage 6—Young Adulthood:
-​Intimacy, based upon a stable self-identity and the ability to engage in a relationship defined by
mutual trust with another is contrasted with an inflexibility of identity based on a tentative sense
of self which leads to isolation.
-If intimacy is favored the basic strength of​ love​ will develop. If the dystonic element, isolation is
favored, the core pathology that may result is ​exclusivity​.
-Erickson called the Psychosexual stage of intimate sexuality at this stage the genitality mode.
Stage 7—Adulthood​:
-When people begin to take place in society and assume responsibility for whatever society
-​The desire to guide the next generation becomes of utmost importance at this stage if it is
resolved syntonically and the basic strength of ​care​ emerges.
-If on the other hand, adults become narcissistic and self-involved they may develop the core
pathology of ​rejectivity​.
-Going beyond Freud, Erickson maintained that there was an instinctual drive toward
perpetuating the species and he called this the Psychosexual procreativity mode.
Stage 8—Old Age:
-Old age can be a time of joy, playfulness, and wonder; but it is also a time of senility.
-As people age, many of the things they identified themselves as change and many of the
things, they associate their lives with are lost and without a well developed self-identity the core
pathology of ​disdain e
​ merges. The last Psychosexual stage is classified as generalized
sensuality mode.
Summary of the Life Cycle
-Each of the psychosocial crisis is stimulated by a conflict between the predominating syntonic
element and its antithetical dystonic element.
-Erikson defined psychohistory as the study of individual and collective life with the combined
methods of psychoanalysis and history.
-He used psychohistory to demonstrate his fundamental beliefs that each person is a product of
his or her historical time and that those historical times are influenced by exceptional leaders
experiencing a personal identity conflict.
Ex. Ghandi
Ego Identity in Adolescents Across Culture
-Erikson himself was what we might call today as a cross-cultural psychologist, studying people
from several cultures, but he employed qualitative and case study methodologies.
-His study was an effort to test whether adolescents develop ego identity in the same way
across two very dissimilar cultures.
-The findings reflect how each culture provides unique pathways through Erikson’s stages, but
that the stages themselves appear to be epigenetic across cultures, as Erikson predicted.
Erikson’s 4 Identity Statuses