Friday, January 13, 2012
Inspiring: Erik Erikson. As close to being DC as they got in 1902!
I wondered why I loved Erikson so much and why he seemed to be the only one to truly understand identity issues. I also admit to thinking the name "Erik Erikson" was a bit funny and thought badly of his parents.
Now I understand. I believe we should all (symbolically) do the same: if we have no hope of ever knowing our fathers, we can "refather" ourselves by ourselves!
This wonderful, sane, compassionate man never knew his father's name. He had elaborate fantasies about his real father. Anna Freud, his analyst, told him to stop it and let it go, but he refused.
And he was still wonderful. In fact, it was his black hole in the place where his father should be that probably prompted him to be the wonderful man that he was.
There's hope for us yet!
Here's a full biography I love. It's in Word form. It paints a full, not always flattering picture of him, which includes the negative consequences of his identity confusion stemming from never knowing his father.
This is from a site I don't exactly love. But it's informative:
"Erik Erikson was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 15, 1902. There is a little mystery about his heritage: His biological father was an unnamed Danish man who abandoned Erik's mother before he was born. His mother, Karla Abrahamsen, was a young Jewish woman who raised him alone for the first three years of his life. She then married Dr. Theodor Homberger, who was Erik's pediatrician, and moved to Karlsruhe in southern Germany.
We cannot pass over this little piece of biography without some comment: The development of identity seems to have been one of his greatest concerns, in Erikson's own life as well as in his theory. During his childhood, and his early adulthood, he was Erik Homberger, and his parents kept the details of his birth a secret. So here he was, a tall, blond, blue-eyed boy who was also Jewish. At temple school, the kids teased him for being Nordic; at grammar school, they teased him for being Jewish.
When he became an American citizen, he officially changed his name to Erik Erikson.
Erik, son of Erik."
Here is the source. Italics mine. While the text is informative, I find the repeated word "little" patronizing, dismissive, and insulting.
And this makes so much sense:
"Erik's new stepfather was his pediatrician, Theodor Homburger. Homburger, who insisted on being referred to as Erik's father, conferred his surname on the boy in 1908 and finally adopted him in 1911. Despite this it became apparent, with the arrival of three half sisters, that Erik held a very different place in the family as the adopted stepson. Throughout adolescence he increasingly identified as an outsider, both within and in the local community. He was teased at school for being Jewish, and at synagogue for being tall and blond. His stepfather refused to accept his intense artistic inclinations. "