Erik Erikson, 1902–94, American psychoanalyst, b. Germany. As a young man he traveled throughout Europe. He became a teacher in a Vienna private school and trained as a psychoanalyst (1927–33) under Anna Freud, specializing in child psychology. After emigrating to the United States in 1933, Erikson taught at Harvard (1933–36; 1960–70) and engaged in a variety of clinical work, widening the scope of psychoanalytic theory to take greater account of social, cultural, and other environmental factors. In his most influential work, Childhood and Society (1950), he divided the human life cycle into eight psychosocial stages of development. His psychohistorical studies, Young Man Luther (1958) and Gandhi's Truth (1969; Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award), explore the convergence of personal development and social history. His later works deal with ethical concerns in the modern world.
See biography by L. J. Friedman (1999).