A PSYCHOANALYST who is usually classified as a neo-Freudian because of his emphasis on EGO PSYCHOLOGY, Erikson had an overriding interest in problems of IDENTITY. In his book 'Childhood and Society', he proposed the principle of EPIGENESIS — that there is a sequence of eight stages of development, all with crucial psychological tasks to be achieved and through each of which an individual must successfully pass in order to attain maturity. The most crucial of these periods is that of adolescence, when the individual is in the process of forming an identity through the activity of his EGO or conscious SELF.
Erikson's concern with identity crises led him to examine those of various historical figures, and his 'Young Man Lather' generated a lot of interest in the field of PSYCHOHISTORY and in particular psychobiography. In general, Erikson has influenced numerous workers in the field of human development to discount the exclusive Freudian focus on CHILDHOOD and pay more serious attention to adolescence — and, to a lesser extent, the entire life cycle.