Erik Erikson is possibly the best known of Sigmund Freud’s many followers. He grew up in Europe and spent his young adult life under the direction of Freud. In 1933 when Hitler was in power of Germany, Erikson immigrated to the U.S. and began teaching at Harvard University. His clinical work and studies were based on children, college students, and victims of combat fatigue during WWII, civil rights workers, and American Indians. It was these studies that led Erikson to believe that Freud misjudged some important aspects of human development. Erikson has influenced the way psychologists view the importance of identity during adolescents. Erikson’s psychosocial model was influenced by Freud and shares a number of ideas. For example, both Freud and Erikson agree that every individual is born with a number of basic instincts, that development occurs through stages, and that the order of these stages is influenced by biological maturation (Sigelman, and Shaffer). Erikson also believes, as did Freud, that personality has three components: the id, the ego, and the superego. However, Erikson does argue that social and cultural influences have a critical role in shaping human development and less significance should be placed on the role of sexual urges. Freud did note however, that social agents such as parents should be regarded as important, but it is Erikson who highlights it within a broader social environment, including peers, teachers and schools which are highly important according to Erikson. Erikson moves more towards the ‘nurture’ side of the nature - nurture debate than did Freud, viewing nurture as equally important in development. This ‘nurture’ outlook shows the emphasis on environmental forces within Erikson’s model. Experiences in life, changes achieved through learning, the influence of methods of child rearing, societal changes and culture all have a really important role on human development according to...
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