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Plakun, E.M. (1999). Ideas and Identities: The Life and Work of Erik Erikson: Edited by Robert S. Wallerstein and Leo Goldberger, International Universities Press, Madison, CT, 1998, 411 pp., $65.00.. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 27(2):331-334.

(1999). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 27(2):331-334

Ideas and Identities: The Life and Work of Erik Erikson: Edited by Robert S. Wallerstein and Leo Goldberger, International Universities Press, Madison, CT, 1998, 411 pp., $65.00.

Review by:
Eric M. Plakun, M.D.

Beginning at the end is a bit unusual for a reviewer, but, in Ideas and Identities: The Life and Work of Erik Erikson by Robert Wallerstein and Leo Goldberger, it is Goldberger's epilogue that best sets the context for this volume. Goldberger tells of his conversation with the aged Erikson during a visit to the Austen Riggs Center in the early 1980s, when Erikson offered to conduct a month-long seminar for fellows on a subject of their choosing. Erikson was disappointed that the fellows asked him for a seminar on Kohut's writings on narcissism, confiding to his friend that he wasn't at all familiar with Kohut or eager to spend time catching up at his age. Goldberger was stunned and dismayed at the fellows' poor judgment in passing up the opportunity to hear Erikson teaching Erikson. I realized as I read this story that I was one of those fellows. In retrospect, I agree with Goldberger that we almost missed a wonderful opportunity. On the other hand, then as now, young clinicians are consumed with passion to master the leading contemporary controversies in the field, not those of a generation past.

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