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Roth, N. (1977). Erik H. Erikson: The Power and Limits of a Vision: Paul Roazen The Free Press (A Division of Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.), New York, 1976, 246 pp., $8.95.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 5(1):147-148.

(1977). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 5(1):147-148

Erik H. Erikson: The Power and Limits of a Vision: Paul Roazen The Free Press (A Division of Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.), New York, 1976, 246 pp., $8.95.

Review by:
Nathan Roth

Paul Roazen, a professor of social and political science, is now an established historian, observer and interpreter of the psychoanalytic scene. There have been others from his field of specialization, notably Nathan Leites, to have played this role. Having given us his treatises on Freud, his work and his colleagues, Roazen now progresses to a study of the person who is probably the most prominent of the nonmedical analysts in this country today, Erik H. Erikson.

Roazen holds that Erikson is not properly appreciated if his work is not subjected to careful scrutiny and criticism. If criticism is what is needed, then Erikson has now achieved full recognition and appreciation. The criticism is not always gentle. In his treatment of the Hitler phenomenon, Erikson is said to show “social fatuousness” and to reveal “certain striking weaknesses in his approach” (p. 51). Robert Coles's book about Erikson is very different, consistently admiring, commendatory, accepting. The different evaluations of Erikson's work in these two books make a striking contrast. Not that Roazen regularly rejects Erikson's contributions-far from it; but he finds shortcomings and points of disagreement with much frequency.

Erikson's most popular thesis is probably his view that healthy development requires the establishment of a sound psychosocial identity without confusion, and he lays great stress on the importance of societal forces in the shaping and bolstering of identity. He looks for “social sources of ego strength” (p.

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