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Blank, H.R. (1964). Childhood and Society: By Erik H. Erikson. Second edition, Revised and enlarged. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1963. 445 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 33:581.

(1964). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 33:581

Childhood and Society: By Erik H. Erikson. Second edition, Revised and enlarged. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1963. 445 pp.

Review by:
H. Robert Blank

Since its publication in 1950, Childhood and Society has become a classic among psychoanalysts, anthropologists, and other behavioral and social scientists. The volume made major contributions to the theory of ego development, and to the application of psychoanalysis to the social sciences. It provided a new dimension to our understanding of the interpenetration of history, group psychology, and psychology; it gave badly needed substance and definition to the concept of national character.

The second edition is a revision 'only … to clarify [the author's] original intentions', and to add 'material from the same period of [his] work'. The additions are rewarding, especially the expanded Part Three: The Growth of the Ego. One is again impressed with Erikson's erudition, clinical competence, and wisdom. Where one is inclined to question or disagree, the point is relatively minor—a point on which Erikson would be the first to agree he was speculating and would welcome critical discussion. For instance, he repeatedly used fetishism where the concept of transitional object would be more accurate.

Those who are familiar with the first edition will wish to read the second. To readers of This QUARTERLY who are unfamiliar with Childhood and Society, Grotjahn's admonition of 1951 is still appropriate: 'Any analyst who misses the study of these pages is … negligent of his obligation to inform himself about progress in his field'.

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