25 Erik Erikson Quotes For Exploring Your Identity

Get in tune with your authentic nature with our Erik Erikson quotes. 

Erik Erikson is one of the most influential psychologists of the twentieth century.

His work enhanced how scientists understood human psychological development. 

Check out our Erik Erikson quotes below. 

Who was Erik Erikson?

Erik Erikson was a German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst.

He was born June 15, 1902, in Frankfurt, Germany. 

Check out these Erik Erikson facts below:

  • Erikson coined the phrase identity crisis. 
  • Despite lacking a university degree, Erikson was a professor at top schools. 
  • Erikson is ranked as the twelfth most eminent psychologist of the twentieth century. 

He was the son of Jewish parents from Denmark. 

His father and mother separated before he was born, and a stepfather raised him. 

What is Erik Erikson known for?

Erikson is known for his career in psychology. 

He did not have a university degree but was a professor at Harvard, Yale, and the University of California, Berkeley. 

He is known for his work in psychology and identity. 

Why did Erikson study identity?

As a youth, Erikson was bitter when his mother and stepfather revealed that he had a different biological father. 

This situation is perhaps what set in motion his desire to study identity. 

Erikson became a psychologist who studied identity development because he felt his childhood identity was confusing and impacted his life as an adult. 

Erik never felt like he fit in as a youth. 

He was tall, with blue eyes and blond hair, and was raised in the Jewish religion. 

He was a target of bigotry by children at grammar school who teased him for being Jewish. 

At Hebrew school, he was teased by his Jewish classmates for being Nordic looking. 

Erikson states that he felt like an outsider during his life. 

While studying the impact of identity, he went to live among the Yurok Nation of northern California and the Sioux Nation of South Dakota. 

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These times spent living with indigenous people helped him formalize his ideas on identity and eventually served as the key to developing the theory behind identity crisis. 

Erik Erikson’s work, research, and theories indelibly impacted our world. 

To learn more, check out our Erik Erikson quotes below. 

Short Erik Erikson quotes about doubt, love, and shame

Erikson gets straight to the point with these quick and sweet quotes. 

1.“We are what we love.” — Erik Erikson

2. “I am what survives of me.” — Erik Erikson

3. “Personality, too, is destiny.” — Erik Erikson

4. “Doubt is the brother of shame.” — Erik Erikson

5. “A man’s conflicts represent what he ‘really’ is.” — Erik Erikson

The top Erik Erikson quotes about history, play, and children

Erikson reminds us to live in the present to be our best. 

6. “None was to touch anyone’s property on the way.” — Erik Erikson

7. “The way you ‘take history’ is also a way of ‘making history.’” — Erik Erikson

8. “The psychoanalytic method is essentially a historical method.” — Erik Erikson

9. “Play is the most natural method of self-healing that childhood affords.” — Erik Erikson

10. “Children cannot be fooled by empty praise and condescending encouragement.” — Erik Erikson 

The best Erick Erikson quotes about health, children, and life

Erikson believes we must let go of fear to reach our potential. 

11. “The more you know yourself, the more patience you have for what you see in others.” — Erik Erikson

12. “Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death.” — Erik Erikson 

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13. “You’ve got to learn to accept the law of life and face the fact that we disintegrate slowly.” — Erik Erikson

14. “Adolescents need freedom to choose, but not so much freedom that they cannot, in fact, make a choice.” — Erik Erikson 

15. “There is in every child at every stage a new miracle of vigorous unfolding, which constitutes a new hope and a new responsibility for all.” — Erik Erikson

Erick Erikson quotes about wealth and human existence

Erikson has some insightful quotes about life.  

16. “In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity.” — Erik Erikson

17. “The richest and fullest lives attempt to achieve an inner balance between three realms: work, love, and play.” — Erik Erikson

18. “The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.” — Erik Erikson

19. “Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for us all.” — Erik Erikson

20. “The sense of identity provides the ability to experience one’s self as something that has continuity and sameness, and to act accordingly.” — Erik Erikson

Famous Erik Erikson quotes about hope and anxiety

Erikson would encourage each of us to let go of fear and cling to hope. 

21. “Babies control and bring up their families as much as they are controlled by them; in fact, the family brings up baby by being brought up by him.” — Erik Erikson

22. “Children love and want to be loved, and they very much prefer the joy of accomplishment to the triumph of hateful failure. Do not mistake a child for his symptom.” — Erik Erikson

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23. “Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained, hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired.” — Erik Erikson 

24. “Anxieties are diffuse states of tension (caused by a loss of mutual regulation and a consequent upset in libidinal and aggressive controls) which magnify and even cause the illusion of an outer danger, without pointing to appropriate avenues of defense or mastery.” — Erik Erikson

25. “You see a child play, and it is so close to seeing an artist paint, for in play, a child says things without uttering a word. You can see how he solves his problems. You can also see what’s wrong. Young children, especially, have enormous creativity, and whatever’s in them rises to the surface in free play.” — Erik Erikson

What is Identity Crisis?

In psychology, an identity crisis is a stage theory of identity development that involves resolving the conflict over the eight stages of the human lifespan. 

This stage focuses on adolescents and how they define the world. 

Erikson reasoned that during our development, something called identity cohesion vs. role confusion occurs. 

During this time, adolescents are faced with different forms of growth and must integrate ideas of themselves with what others think about them. 

The self-image formed by adolescents depends on the progress of their previous developmental stages and is centered on issues such as initiative, trust, and autonomy. 

Erikson believed this pivotal stage in our development was essential to creating healthy identities and impacted our self-esteem and interactions with others. 

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