It is essential for social work and human services practitioners to have a clear understanding of human development and behaviour, for each individual is a product of a number of different influential factors. Harms' (2010) acknowledges the notion that an individual can occupy more than one dimension at any time which corroborate with the plethora of theorists who share similar perspectives on this approach. A multidimensional approach, allows individuals to critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses associated with a theory and apply this in practice. .
The following literature review focuses on Erik Erikson's ideas as it critically analyses his psychosocial theory of human development by examining the eight stages of man, the key concepts within his theory, discussing the strengths, weaknesses and criticisms associated with his theory then concluding with the effectiveness of Erikson's theory in relation to understanding human development and behaviour. .
Erik Erikson, born in Germany 1902, was a developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst who worked alongside Anna Freud, daughter of psychologist Sigmund Freud, at the acclaimed Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute, where he specialised in child analysis. He learned from Freud himself whose stance in the realm of psychology was world renowned (Hoare, 2002). Considered a Neo-Freudian (Greene, 2012), Erikson drew inspiration from Freud's theory of psychological structures, the early developmental stages of children and psychoanalytic methodology, however he emphasized the interrelation of social factors and individual thoughts and behaviours rather than sexuality which was a key principle in Freud's psychosexual theory (Miller, 2002; Sowers & Dulmus 2008). Although influenced by Freud's work, Erikson believed that individuals were aware of the social forces around them that influenced them positively, whereas Freud held the belief that people were driven by unconscious and antisocial sexual and aggressive urges that originated within the biological makeup of an individual (Kroger, 2004).