After demonstrating talent as an artist in childhood, he decided to make it his career, and spent the years of his Wander-schaft (period of journeying) moving from city to city in Europe using only his drawings and sketches to support himself.The turning point in his life came when he met Anna Freud.It was here that he met, fell in love with, and married fellow artist-analysand Joan Serson.
His mother never revealed to Erik the identity of his biological father, and Erik was given the surname of his stepfather: Homburger.
Despite the feeling of abandonment at not knowing his real father, Erik received a classical education from a proper German gymnasium, and had a happy childhood.
Freud took notice of Erik while he was teaching in Vienna and invited him to train as a psychoanalyst.
At the time, the Viennese school of psychoanalysis begun by Sigmund Freud only accepted members upon invitation.
Erikson is a neo-Freudian, who chose not to criticise but to develop Freud’s ideas.
Erikson extended many aspects of Freud’s ‘psychosexual stage theory’ within his ‘psychosocial stage theory’ (1975; 1968; 1963).Erikson suggested the ego as the driving force in personality development, unlike Freud who suggested this to be the id.There were originally eight universal stages of development in the psychosocial stage theory which span across an individual’s entire life; these eight stages later had a ninth stage added.Upon arriving in the US, Erik decided to take the surname Erikson, literally meaning “son of Erik".Erikson was a prolific scientist whose career spanned nearly 60 years and included clinical practice as a child psychotherapist, academic appointments at Harvard, Yale, and Berkeley, numerous academic publications, and several long and protracted psychological case studies.Many of Erikson’s theories were developed during the 1950s and 60s, in a much different cultural milieu than we find in today’s world.It is a testament to the power of his theories that today’s psychologists continue to make the effort to adapt and expand them.Furthermore, it is a testament to the gracefulness of his character that this adaptation is something Erikson would have welcomed.Erik Erikson will forever be remembered not only for his ceaseless pursuit of the truths of how human beings develop, but also for how he lived out these truths throughout the course of his long and meaningful life.According to Erikson failure to pass through any stage successfully in the psychosocial stage theory does not stop individuals entering into further stages.Overcoming these past failings can be achieved in future crisis resolution, according to Erikson.