Erikson's theory is mainly based on the foundations established by Freud but he synthesized Freud's philosophical views and applied them quite specifically to social development. In his view, the ego is more than the equalizer between the super ego and the basic Id, as Freud would argue. Instead, the ego is the enforcer of identity and the conduit upon which most of our decisions are made.
When working with Erik Erikson it is easy to relate to the terminology associated with his Psychoanalytical Ego Theory because a lot of said terminology is being used to this day.
Among the most salient terms are:
Ego- which the inner, motivational force that drives our actions and builds our identity.
Identity-The product of a strong ego; it entails the knowledge of goal, purpose and role in life. It is free individuality and represents the completion of most maturity phases.
Identity crisis-The result of a weak ego, or one which has not fulfilled most of the psychosocial stages of development. A weak ego lowers self esteem and impedes the creation of identity. As a result, people try to compensate for lost stages and ends up acting the way that they should have during an earlier stage that went unfulfilled. Ex: Midlife crises, as a result of unfinished businesses.
Unfinished business- Refers to the missing accomplishments that come out of each developmental phase according to Erikson's psychosocial theory and his psychoanalytical ego theory. When a psychosocial developmental stage is not completed, then the individual would want to compensate for the lacking knowledge that could have come out of a completed task. Unfinished businesses are often seen with persons suffering from identity crises.
Negotiation -Although this is not necessarily a term coined by Erikson it is what his entire theory is all about. Notice the names of his stages of psychosocial development.
- Trust vs. Mistrust
- Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
- Initiative vs. Guilt
- Industry vs. Inferiority
- Identity vs. Role Confusion
- Intimacy vs. Isolation
- Generativity vs. Stagnation
- Ego Integrity vs. Despair
The negotiation entails that, either we complete the stage or something negative will result by not completing it. Hence, throughout our lives we are given the choice to grow up, or remain in a perennial stage of immaturity and no-change.
Therefore, Erikson's terminology is very widely used and accepted especially in the field of Education, where Erikson's stages are studied as part of the core curriculum of pedagogy under Human Development.