IDENTITY: On Youth and History by Erik H. Erikson

IDENTITY: On Youth and History

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Essays in ego psychology, based on papers written from 1951 to 1967, by a noted neo-Freudian analyst and theorist. The topics are resonant and weighty: ""theory and ideology,"" ""ego pathology and historical change,"" ""group identity and ego identity"" and so forth, in permutations of the concepts which preoccupied Erikson in Young Man Luther, Childhood and Society, and Insight and Responsibility. The essays on totalitarianism and race are of particular interest. The book represents an elaboration of his earlier studies, not a distinct progression: there are no important new approaches or conclusions. Erikson tries to clarify what he calls ""the singular and often erratic public appeal which the terms 'identity' and 'identity conflict' have had during the last two decades""--a useful undertaking. As for ""history,"" here it chiefly means life history at different times and places, viewed through the complexity of cultural influences and life-cycle stages which Erikson continues to investigate. The book is no better organized than one would expect in a collection of revamped papers; Erikson's style is still civilized and confident, but perhaps a bit tired. The essays will have limited interest and intelligibility for those not already acquainted with his work. Unlikely to become a classic like Luther, it provides a useful gloss on his other books, and adumbrates key areas for future study.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1967
Publisher: Norton