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James, M. (1970). Identity: Youth and Crisis: By Erik H. Erikson. London: Faber & Faber. 1968. Pp. 336.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 51:79-83.

(1970). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 51:79-83

Identity: Youth and Crisis: By Erik H. Erikson. London: Faber & Faber. 1968. Pp. 336.

Review by:
Martin James

A leading educationist asked if this latest book of Erikson's was a form of 'psychoanalytic Lysenkoism'. The reference is to Lysenko, that Russian who not so long ago sought to elevate, in a Lamarckian fashion, the influence of the environment in plant and animal husbandry to a pinnacle of importance.

The question raises interesting considerations. First, that an over-simple variety of the reductionist image persists in the public mind as the shibboleth of pure psychoanalysis. This suggests too that, ignoring transference and resistance, the hallmark for informed non-analysts is that everything should be reduced to something else earlier in development which it 'really' represents. This reductionism too, when attributed to analysts, is assumed to be in terms of constitution, not environment since intrapsychic mechanisms, like the oedipus complex, are known to be a built-in part of individual development.

Second, there is the heartening implication that psychoanalytic knowledge is being compared with the biological knowledge which was Lysenko's field of interest.

Third, perhaps educationists and others learn about psychoanalysis from the Eriksons and Bowlbys, not from the International Journal and the American Journal of Psychoanalysis.

Putting the three things together, we can say that Erikson's appeal to the neighbour disciplines and the public at large comes from the same factor which makes him suspect to the purist psychoanalyst. This factor is that he accords to achievement, skills and competences a standing in their own right and so provokes a doubt whether perhaps he sees these ego capacities independently of development, i.

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