Identity's Architect by Lawrence J. Friedman
A Biography of Erik H. Erikson

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Synopsis

One of the most profound thinkers of the twentieth century, Erik H. Erikson was the architect of the "identity crisis" and the "life cycle" -- concepts that are now a familiar part of today's culture. Identity's Architect is the first comprehensive and authorized biography of Erikson, postwar America's most influential psychoanalyst, who acutely reshaped our views of human development.

Drawing on private materials and extensive interviews with Erikson's family, students, and closest colleagues around the world, award-winning historian Lawrence J. Friedman illuminates the relationship between Erikson's personal life and his groundbreaking ideas. This book lays bare the identity crisis that was at the root of this remarkable man's lifelong quest to discover who his father was.

Friedman insightfully shows how Erikson's famous eight-stage model of the human life cycle grew from the birth of his third son, who was born developmentally handicapped. Even Erikson's acclaimed studies of Luther, Gandhi, Jefferson, and Jesus were inseparable from his life circumstances.

The writing and ideas of Erik Erikson have had a remarkably lasting influence on our culture. Erikson's fascination with India and with Gandhi earned him the Pulitzer Prize for his book Gandhi's Truth and foreshadowed the contemporary West's growing interest in Eastern thought. His students at Harvard in the 1960s have gone on to great prominence -- Carol Gilligan, Robert Coles, Mary Catherine Bateson, and Howard Gardner to name a few. Trained in Vienna by Sigmund and Anna Freud, Erikson came to depart from psychoanalytic orthodoxy in deeply innovative ways -- insisting that social circumstances were no less important than the inner psyche in determining human personality.

This exhaustively researched, compelling biography, which has been ten years in the making, is indispensable for anyone who hopes to fully understand one of the most significant intellectual figures of our time.

 

About Lawrence J. Friedman

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Lawrence J. Friedman is professor of history at Indiana University and the author of four previous books. His Menninger: The Family and the Clinic was a finalist for the 1991 Albert J. Beveridge Award and Gregarious Saints: Self and Community in American Abolitionism won the Ohioana Book Award. He is a four-time recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mr. Friedman directs the Indiana Arts and Humanities Forum and is an activist for the rights of minorities, scholars, and the mentally ill.
 
Published May 1, 1999 by Free Association Books. 592 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Friedman early on puts his finger on a cardinal Erikson quality: in an age of enormous human tragedies, when —contemporaries often described a human condition of gloom, despair, and degradation.

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Publishers Weekly

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Friedman, a professor of history at Indiana University and author of Menninger, offers the first authorized biography of Erikson, an engaging portrait of the psychologist's life and its relationship t

May 03 1999 | Read Full Review of Identity's Architect: A Biogr...

Publishers Weekly

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Friedman, a professor of history at Indiana University and author of Menninger, offers the first authorized biography of Erikson, an engaging portrait of the psychologist's life and its relationship to his exploration of the concept of identity.

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