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Chapter 6 theories of Personality

Chapter 6 theories of Personality - Chapter 6 Erik H...

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Chapter 6. Erik H. Erikson[*] Courtesy of the Library of Congress Chapter Outline Biographical Sketch Anatomy and Destiny Epigenetic Principle, Crises, Ritualizations, and Ritualisms Eight Stages of Personality Development Goal of Psychotherapy Comparison of Erikson and Freud Evaluation Summary Experiential Exercises Discussion Questions According to Freud, the job of the ego is to find realistic ways of satisfying the impulses of the id while not offending the moral demands of the superego. Freud viewed the ego as operating “in the service of the id” and as the “helpless rider of the id horse.” The ego, according to this view, has no needs of its own. The id is the energizer of the entire personality, and everything a person does is ultimately reduced to its demands. As we saw in Chapter 2, Freud viewed enterprises such as art, science, and religion as mere displacements or sublimations of basic idinal desires. The first shift away from Freud’s position came from his daughter Anna in her book, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (1966). Anna Freud suggested that instead of emphasizing the importance of the id, psychoanalysis should “acquire the fullest possible knowledge of all the three institutions [that is, id, ego, and superego] of which we believe the psychic personality to be constituted and to learn what are their relations to one another and to the outside world” (pp. 4–5). Erik H. Erikson was obviously influenced by his teacher, Anna Freud, but he believed she did not go far enough. Erikson gave the ego properties and needs of its own. The ego, according to Erikson, may have started out in the service of the id but, in the process of serving it, developed its own functions. For example, it was the ego’s job to organize one’s life and to ensure continuous harmony with one’s physical and social environment. This conception emphasizes the influence of the ego on healthy growth and adjustment and also as the source of the person’s self-awareness and identity. This contrasts sharply with the earlier Freudian view that the ego’s sole job is to minimize the id’s discomfort. Because Erikson stressed the autonomy of the ego, his theory exemplifies what has come to be called ego psychology. Although, as we saw in Chapter 4, there are those who credit Alfred Adler with the founding of ego psychology , it is an honor generally given to Erikson, perhaps because he actually emphasized the term ego in his theory. Indeed, Erikson’s entire theory can be viewed as a description of how the ego gains or loses strength as a function of developmental experiences. 153 [*] From Childhood and Society by E. H. Erikson, copyright 1985. Used by permission of W. W. Norton. Biographical Sketch Erik Erikson was born near Frankfurt, Germany, on June 15, 1902. Erikson’s mother, Karla Abrahamsen, was a member of a prominent Jewish family in Copenhagen. In 1898, Karla, at 21, Chapter 6 1
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married a 27-year-old Jewish stockbroker, Valdemar Isidor Salomonsen. The marriage did not last the night and was probably unconsummated (Friedman, 1999, p. 29). Speculation concerning Valdemar’s
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