27 Erik Erikson Quotes (The concept of the identity crisis).

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The concept of the identity originates in the work of developmental psychologist Erik Erikson. He believed that the formation of identity was one of the most important conflicts that people encounter. An identity crisis is a developmental event that causes a person to question their place (identity) in the world.

Erik Homburger Erikson (born Erik Salomonsen; 15 June 1902 – 12 May 1994) was a Danish-German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on psychological development of human beings. He coined the phrase identity crisis.
Source – Wikipedia.


27 Erik H. Erikson Quotes:

1. The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.

2. Anxieties are diffuse states of tension (caused by a loss of mutual regulation and a consequent upset in libidinal and aggressive controls) which magnify and even cause the illusion of an outer danger, without pointing to appropriate avenues of defense or mastery.

3. Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired.

4. An infant of two or three months will smile at even half a painted dummy face, if that half of the face is fully represented and has at least two clearly defined points or circles for eyes; more the infant does not need, but he will not smile for less. The infant’s instinctive smile seems to have exactly that purpose which is its crowning effect, namely, that the adult feels recognized, and in return expresses recognition in the form of loving and providing.

5. The psychoanalytic method is essentially a historical method.

6. There is in every child at every stage a new miracle of vigorous unfolding, which constitutes a new hope and a new responsibility for all.

7. Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death.

8. Children love and want to be loved and they very much prefer the joy of accomplishment to the triumph of hateful failure. Do not mistake a child for his symptom.

9. In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity.

10. The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.


11. You see a child play, and it is so close to seeing an artist paint, for in play a child says things without uttering a word. You can see how he solves his problems. You can also see what’s wrong. Young children, especially, have enormous creativity, and whatever’s in them rises to the surface in free play.

12. There is in every child at every stage a new miracle of vigorous unfolding.

13. When we looked at the life cycle in our 40s, we looked to old people for wisdom. At 80, though, we look at other 80-year-olds to see who got wise and who not. Lots of old people don’t get wise, but you don’t get wise unless you age.

14. Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.

15. I am what survives of me.

16. Babies control and bring up their families as much as they are controlled by them; in fact the family brings up baby by being brought up by him.

17. Parents must not only have certain ways of guiding by prohibition and permission, they must also be able to represent to the child a deep, almost somatic conviction that there is meaning in what they are doing.

18. Every adult, whether he is a follower or a leader, a member of a mass or of an elite, was once a child. He was once small. A sense of smallness forms a substratum in his mind, ineradicably. His triumphs will be measured against this smallness; his defeats will substantiate it.

19. Nevertheless, it is true that the first discipline encountered by a young man is the one he must somehow identify with unless he chooses to remain unidentified in his years of need. The discipline he happens to encounter, however, may turn out to be poor ideological fare; poor in view of what, as an individual, he has not yet derived from his childhood problems, and poor in view of the irreversible decisions which begin to crowd in on him.

20. You’ve got to learn to accept the law of life, and face the fact that we disintegrate slowly.


21. We are what we love.

22. Man’s true taproots are nourished in the sequence of generations, and he loses his taproots in disrupted developmental time, not in abandoned localities.

23. Adolescents need freedom to choose, but not so much freedom that they cannot, in fact, make a choice.

24. A man’s conflicts represent what he ‘really’ is.

25. A creative man has no choice. He may come across his supreme task almost accidentally. But once the issue is joined, his task proves to be at the same time intimately related to his most personal conflicts, to his superior selective perception, and to the stubbornness of his one-way will; he must court sickness, failure, or insanity in order to test the alternative whether the established world will crush him, or whether he will disestablish a sector of this world’s outworn fundaments and make place for a new one.

26. ..the sternness sometimes displayed in your letters to your children bespeaks an appalling sense of doom, as if they, as the product of your sin, had no chance for salvation except as partners in your renunciation.

27. The way you ‘take history’ is also a way of ‘making history.

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