Erikson*s Edition

By: Michael Werley and Catherine
Our research study does not particularly ask the
question why, but instead attempts to
determine the legitimacy of
Erikson’s theory.
By observing children,
we hope to determine if his theory is applicable in
our modern time period in
addition to observing the different stages
In their relationship to play.
The objective of our study is a descriptive observation of
children in regards to two of Erikson’s stages, Initiative
vs. Guilt and Industry vs. Inferiority.
We would like to observe the child’s interaction with
others as well as their regard to certain objects in a
play-like setting.
Our observation is in a sense a comparison, we would like
to observe the two different stages of kids and
compare the development.
We want to know if a child’s sense of play changes
between Erikson’s two stages.
 B. Frankfurt Germany to unwed Danish parents in 1902
 For 3 years, was kept secret by his mother until her
marriage to a pediatrician
 Earned his nickname the “goy” from his Jewish friends as
he was tall, blonde, blue-eyed and looked Danish despite
his Jewish heritage
 Did not flourish in a school environment as he was not the
best student, while he excelled in art and ancient history
 Did not go to college immediately following high school,
but instead travelled through Europe till he was 25
 Began teaching in Vienna at a school founded by Anna
Freud, and Dorothy Burlingham
 Studied with and analyzed by Anna Freud
Married Joan Serson at 27
1933- World War II forced him to leave Europe
3 years in Boston
Taught at Yale 2 yrs
Pine Ridge in South Dakota
 Lived with and learned about the Lakota (Sioux Tribe)
 San Francisco
 Research at Univeristy of California
 Travelled up coast to study Yurok fishermen
 Opened practice again as a child clinician
 1949 took job with Austin Riggs Center in Massachusetts till 1960
 Given professorship at Harvard
 Remarkable, given that he never earned a formal college degree
 Stayed at Harvard till his death in 1994
 Childhood in Society (1950, 1963)
 Young Man Luther (1958)
 Insight and Responsibility (1964)
 Identity : Youth and Crisis (1968)
 Gandhi’s Truth (1969)
 Dimensions of a New Identity (1974)
 Life History and the Historical Movement (1975)
 Toys and Reasons (1977)
 Identity and the Life Cycle (1959, 1980)
 The Life Cycle Completed (1982)
(Adaption of Freud’s psychosexual stages)
 Trust v. Mistrust (oral)
 Birth to 1
 Autonomy v. Shame or Doubt (anal)
 1 to 3
 Initiative v. Guilt (phallic/ Oedipal)
 2/3 to 5/6
 Industry v. Inferiority (latency)
 5/6 to 10/11
Identity v. Role Confusion (genital)
 Adolescence
Intimacy v. Isolation
 Young Adulthood
Generativity v. Self-Absorption/ Stagnation
 Adulthood
Ego-Integrity v. Despair
 Old age
A mode of being in the world typified by a
very mobile, tactile relationship with the
 Boys: Protrusion
 Girls: more based in the “Catching” action
The Irrational feeling of inappropriateness in
thoughts and actions
 A Mode of being the world typified by a very
mobile, tactile relationship with the world
 A mode of “being on the make” (p. 255)
Sibling-rivalry/ Competitiveness
 Autonomy characterizes this stage, and the
autonomy of a child is challenged by the
presence of the other or rival. In an attempt to
remain the “favored” child, the child then
imagines himself as a large, overpowering beastly
creature (256).
Adult Imitation
 Role playing occurs in this stage, as children
imitate both their parents and adults with whom
they are familiar.
Responsible Participation
 Through the child’s newfound concept of self as
active participant in the lived world, the child
becomes a fully active participant in his/her
world by creating a new meaning for the toys
used in play. Caring for younger children arises at
this age as well (Erikson 256).
Heightened sense of morality
 With the child’s first step towards the
interiorizing the exterior world, a rise in the
child’s understanding of his “moral
responsibility” is seen in his increased
understanding of “institutions” and
“functions”(p. 256).
 It is possible this manifests itself through the
child’s active understanding of justice in phrases
such as “that’s not right” or “that’s not fair”
 Age 5/6-11/12
 Erikson believes that for ego development this is the most decisive
 Children master important social and cognitive skills
 They also begin to learn useful skills and begin using tools in the
way they were intended
 There is a slow separation from the family unit and an embracing of a
wider culture
 School becomes vital in development
 Children are able to master more cerebral skills like
 Arithmetic
 Reading
 Writing
 There is also a rising of focus on learning to work and play with
others (peers)
 Certain DANGERS of this stage
 Feelings of inadequacy can develop, also inferiority
 Develops from various effects
 Lack of development from previous stages
 Also the school or institution’s attitudes can hold the child
from developing in this stage
 The Ego is strengthened in this stage
 Competence
 “the free exercise of intelligence and skill in the completion
of tasks, unimpaired by excessive feelings of inferiority”
Goal directedness
engaging in activities with certain ends that need to be met
Production becomes a key part of the child’s life and pleasure is found in the
capacity to create and familiarizes himself with “the tool world” (p. 259).
The child learns how the societal tools are applied, be it in reading tools or
other society based tools. Activities are done with others, as compared to
previous times when activities are done side by side the other.
Analytical Thinking
As the mode of acting now involves the use of tools in the proper lighting,
instead of creating meanings for them, the child is now presented with
the ability to decipher new forms of manipulations of the objects around
them and the problem solver arises
“A function of the ego”
(Erikson p. 211)
How does a child approach Play?
Microsphere: A child’s orientation to play
inclusive of only self and not external world
Macrosphere: A child’s orientation to play
which includes more than simply the child but
the world around him
When are we playful?
Children are most playful when they are
attempting to establish mastery of self
Does the playful attitude
end at the culmination of Initiative v. Guilt?
In Initiative v. Guilt, play is characterized by a
general attitude of:
 “Being on the make”
 Use of tools such as toys
 Competitiveness
 Grand aspirations of adult life
(Childhood and Society p. 255-6)
In Industry v. Inferiority, play
manifests itself as:
 A form of relaxation instead of the main mode of
interacting with the world
(The Characteristics of doing
and mastering that which one comes in contact
with seems to replace play)
(Childhood and Society p. 259)
We went to a McDonald's, a Park, and Irving
mall, and then coded the data according to
how each action was perceived to fit in our
categories. E:\UD Fall 2010\Khirallah\Erikson
Intrusive Behavior
The repetition of actions
Sibling Rivalry/ Competitiveness
Seeking approval/attention
Adult Imitation
Mannered actions
Aiding in care of younger children
Clothing style
Responsible Participation
Aiding in care of younger children
Heightened Sense of morality
Acceptance of right and wrong
Goal directedness
Victory in the completion
Use of tools/ games
Ability to multi task
Analytical Thinking
Ability to work through problems
Creating the game
Recreational Play
No longer mode of being in the world
Acknowledging the presence of others
Inability to complete a task as a
definition of self worth
We presented the question, “Do the theories of Erikson, still apply in a
more modern world?” Through our observations we have concluded that
there is still a strong adherence to these stages of development. The two
we chose to focus on (Initiative v Guilt and Industry Inferiority)
emphasized the interaction between children and their interpretation of
play in a modern world. Though the idea of play has shifted overtime,
Erikson’s ideas still hold true. A more technological based society has
arisen and the children have fallen prey. While the focus of their attention
may be on a computer or video system (pick you favorite) there is still a
sense of social interaction. The children have a new means of
competition. With this technological uprising, the innate primal nature of
the children to be outdoors still exists. The interactions at the park are
evidence of such nature. Also you get a hint of this from the McDonald’s
interactions, despite it being an indoor experience. The children show a
need for contact with others through their actions. They show a need to
establish social ‘outlets’ outside of the family or they risk being socially

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