Today, the American psychoanalyst, Erik Erikson is best known as the "Architect of Identity", and the "Father of Psychosocial Development". Erikson is a Freudian ego-psychologist, meaning that he accepts Freud's ideas as basically correct, although he has been known to look farther into the culture, and society-oriented parts (Beoree, 1997). Maybe that is why Erikson's theories are popular among Freudian's and non-Freudian's alike. He is credited for widening the scope of psychoanalytic theory to take greater account of social, cultural, and other environment factors (Slater, 2002) .
Erik Erikson was born on June 15, 1902 in Frankfurt, Germany. Erik's biological father, an unnamed Danish man, abandoned his mother, Karla Abrahamsen, before he was born. She raised him by herself for three years, then she married Dr. Theodore Homburger, Erik's pediatrician, and moved the Karlsruhe in southern Germany (Beoree, 1997).
Erikson's childhood is what was said to be the underlying reason he was so interested in the development of one's identity. Growing up, Erikson's mother hid the secret truth of his father and who he really was. So he grew up as Erik Homburger, and blonde hair and blue-eyed jewish boy. At temple school they used to make fun of his appearance, and at grammar school they teased him for being Jewish (Sharkey, 1999).
Schooling was not Erikson's cup of tea either. He did not like the formal learning environment it had to offer, so he rejected the science career path his parents wanted him to take, and skipped college all together (Cramer, Flynn, Lafave, 1997). So right out of high school, Erikson decided to spend time wandering around Europe, all the while keeping a diary of his experiences. After a year, he returned to Germany and began taking art classes. When he was 25, his friend Peter Blos, a fellow artist and Later, psychoanalyst, suggested he apply for a teaching position at an experimental school for American students run by Dorothy Burlingham, a friend of Anna Freud (Beoree, 1997).