Erik Homberger Erikson (1902-1994):
Hermeneutics of Identity



Freedman (1999). Identity's Architect.

 Influenced by the concept of Bildung where
he developed as a person and as an academic
throughout his whole life

 Studied under Anna Freud after being an artist and teacher

Drew heavily from the developmental model
of Freud, yet was
critical of his "backward"
and "downward" looking "fatalism"


Explicitly recognized the historical situatedness
of the therapist and the "client" in the clinical
model for understanding humans

Championed the orientation of psycho-history of
Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther,
Thomas Jefferson & William James


The clinical method makes use of "disciplined subjectivity"
for both (all) persons involved where "
the two subjectivities
join in the kind of disciplined understanding and shared insight
which we think are operative in a cure

Therapy involves the emancipation of a
patient (meaning passive) into an agent


Ontologically, humans are comprised of
three principle processes of organization or
spheres of being: Soma, psyche & ethos (polis)


Mutuality: psycho-social being where persons are
engaged in the "inter-living" or interdependent
"cogwheeling" of the life-cycles of each other


The "Life Cycle" is comprised by eight "age-specific"
turning points or "crises" of normative development

All stages are active for each person at all ages,
although they emerge as being important through


Each stage has a dialectic to be confronted between
a ritualization (thesis) and a ritualism (antithesis)
which when resolved leads the emergence of a
virtue (synthesis)


Trust vs. Mistrust -> HOPE
Autonomy vs. Shame or Doubt -> WILL
Intitiative vs. Guilt -> PURPOSE
Industry vs Inferiority -> COMPETENCE
Identity vs. Role Confusion -> FIDELITY
Intimacy vs. Isolation -> LOVE
Generativity vs. Stagnation -> CARE
Integrity vs. Despair -> WISDOM


Identity formation involves the acceptance of
ideologies and values for organizing one's life.

It involves the biological, psychological and social
worlds where a sense of
"being at one with oneself"
"a sense of affinity with a community's sense of being
at one with its future as well as its history"
are important


Major Books and important works:
1950 - Childhood and Society
1958 - Young man Luther
1964 - Insight and Responsibility
1968 - Identity, Youth and Crisis
1969 - Gandhi's Truth
1970 - Autobiographical Notes on the Identity Crisis
1974 - Dimensions of a New Identity
1982 - The Life Cycle Completed