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Erik Erikson was one of the first psychologists to propose that human development continues throughout the entire lifespan. His theory focuses on eight distinct stages, each centering around a conflict the individual must resolve. Each stage represents a turning point with a successful and unsuccessful outcome. Erikson believed that successful completion of the earliest stages directly affects the successful resolution of later stages and that the inner and outer conflicts of each stage instill vital personality traits. Erikson also emphasized the socio-cultural factors of human development other theories do not address.

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1. About Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson was born in Germany in 1902. In 1927, he began teaching art in Vienna at a children's school that took a psychoanalytic approach to education. Thus inspired, Erikson went on to receive a certificate from the Montessori School and pursue training at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute. By 1936, he had joined the Yale University Department of Psychiatry in the Institute of Human Relations.

Erikson Stages Development FatCamera / Getty Images
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