Behavior: Erikson Revisited

For those who think an optimistic Freudian is like a Swiss admiral, there is always Erik Erikson. Freud's vision, despite his promise of healing, was a dark one, overlaid with personal and cultural pessimism. Erikson, now 72 and in semiretirement in California, is probably the most influential living psychoanalyst and certainly the most optimistic thinker the Freudian tradition has produced. His famous work on religious leaders (Luther, Gandhi) attempts to show how men can use neurotic conflict for constructive social purposes while healing themselves in the process.

In recent years, Erikson has been...

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