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Erikson, E.H. (1984). Reflections on the Last Stage—And the First. Psychoanal. St. Child, 39:155-165.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 39:155-165

Reflections on the Last Stage—And the First

Erik H. Erikson

IN WISHING TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION TO THIS VOLUME IN honor of Anna Freud, I find my thoughts somewhat dislocated by the fact that Joan Erikson's and my present studies do not concern childhood, but the very last stage of life: old age. To make the most of this I will attempt to restate and to reflect on an overall perspective of human development which promises to reveal some affinities between the end and the beginning of human life. Such a perspective becomes possible in our day when scientific, clinical, and public interest has, over several decades, shown special interest in a series of life stages. There was the Mid-Century White House Conference which was—no doubt in partial response to discoveries of psychoanalysis—dedicated to "a healthy personality for every child." There were the '60s when problems of identity so widely suggested themselves in the dramatic public behavior as well as in the psychopathology of youth and thus called for our psychosocial and historical considerations. And then, indeed, middle and early adulthood were discovered. Thus, the stages of life were highlighted by a historical relativity both in the ways in which they were experienced and in the methods used to conceptualize them at different times by observers of varying ages and interests.

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