Erikson and Personal Identity: a Biographical Profile


Understanding Erik Erikson’s own story of personal development facilitates and illuminates an understanding of the development of his psychology. And it was a remarkably individualistic life that he led. Erikson was an illegitimate child, born near Frankfurt, Germany in 1902, of a secret romance between his Jewish mother and an unknown Danish man. His mother married when he was three years old, but Erikson took after his biological father in appearance. His blond, Nordic appearance made him stand out among his young Jewish friends. In Germany and other parts of Europe at the turn of the century, anti-Semitic attitudes were quite pronounced (as was seen with Freud), and Erikson must have felt that he failed to fit into in with either the majority culture or the Jewish minority. Because of these unusual circumstances, he had an obvious “identity problem,” which surely influenced not only his unconventional lifestyle, but also his ideas about the crises that each person encounters at each stage of his or her life. As a young man, Erikson became a wanderer – almost a nomad – as he traveled through Europe. He also became an artist, and unsurprisingly given his independent nature, was largely self-trained. Erikson lived a bohemian lifestyle during these years, rebellious, but

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Fleming2008EriksonAP, title={Erikson and Personal Identity: a Biographical Profile}, author={Stephanie Fleming and Erik H. Erikson}, year={2008} }