Childhood and Society Background

Childhood and Society Background

Childhood and Society, written by Psychologist Erik Erikson entails what is considered to be one of the most important studies in child psychology. In this book, Erikson studied the social factors and experiences that shape the child’s personality. In his study, he combined the method of Freud’s psychoanalysis and cultural anthropology, teaming it up with observations of the Native American tribes.

In Childhood and Society, Erikson details his theory on the eight psychosexual stages of child development. Drawing observations from Freud’s theory of the stage development, Erikson describes the development of the child through eight distinct but inter-related stages, each involving an accomplishment of a certain task. The successful accomplishment of each task would lead to the healthy development of the individual’s personality, whereas any defects or failures would lead to a difficulty in the same. These stages begin at conception and continue throughout the lifespan.

In his book, Erikson also questioned Freud’s theory of the domination of the id impulses over the ego and superego through Erikson’s theory of ego psychology, in which he argues that the ego strives to strike a balance between the id and the superego, rather than being dominated by the id.

The book consists of 400 pages and to clearly convey the information, it is divided into four parts: Childhood and the Modalities of Social Life, Childhood in Two American Indian Tribes, The Growth of the Ego, and Youth and the Evolution of Identity. Throughout this entire book, Erikson emphasizes on the role of early experiences and the role of parental attitudes on the child and its contributions in shaping adult personality.

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