CHAPTER ONE
Ego Identity: An Overview

Jane Kroger
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

[S]elf-esteem gradually grows into a conviction that the ego is capable of integrating effective steps toward a tangible collective future, that it is developing into a well-organized ego within a social reality. This sense I have tentatively called, ego identity.

-- Erikson ( 1968, p. 49)


THE CONCEPT OF EGO IDENTITY

The term ego identity was first used by Erik Erikson ( 1963) as he sought to describe the central means by which individuals come to experience a sense of being "at home" in themselves--at home in their own bodies, with their own unique blends of psychological drives and defenses, and in their own cultural and societal neighborhoods, recognizing and being recognized by others "who count." Indeed, it was in Freud's focus on biology and psychosexual stages of development that Erikson saw enormous limitations for a full understanding of identity formation and the process of human development: "The traditional psychoanalytic method . . . cannot quite grasp identity because it has not developed terms to conceptualize the environment" ( 1968, p. 24). Thus, ego identity, for Erikson, is a tripartite entity, an interaction of biological givens, idiosyncratic personal biography, and societal response within a broader historical frame that optimally gives coherence, meaning, and continuity to

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