Friday, September 14, 2012

Week of September 16, 2012: How Erikson Can Help

Great news!  Our community initiative Share a Pair of Stories for National Life Writing Month was approved by the library!

You can look at the guidelines at  You are not obligated to participate in this initiative in any way--it is something we are holding outside of our class to encourage others in the community to write and share their stories (although, after hearing about some of your experiences, I would love to hear about your families' thoughts as well!).  And, as you all know, when we write and listen to others' stories, we become more connected and more appreciative as well.  This connection and appreciation is our goal for the community.

But what about us and our writing?

You may have heard of the psychologist Eric Erikson whose work in the psycho-social stages of life profoundly influenced ideas of change in the human mind and behavior.  These same stages can actually give us access to some great ways of interpreting our memories.
Consider his stages:
  • trust vs. mistrust (nursing) - guide for writing:  betrayal, loyalty, danger, safety
  • autonomy vs. shame and doubt (toddler years/toilet training) guide for writing: control, loss of control, pride, shame
  • initiative vs. guilt (preschool/exploration) guide for writing: the quest, disappointment, failure, success
  • industry vs. inferiority (early school age)  guide for writing:  failure, success, the power of one's actions
  • identity vs. role confusion (peer relationships)  guide for writing: strategy, manipulation, coming of age
  • intimacy vs. isolation (intimate relationships)  guide for writing: romance, understanding intimately
  • generativity vs. stagnation (community relationships) guide for writing:  where you were then, where you were now, a new appreciation for where others were then
  • ego integrity vs. despair (reflection on life)  guide for writing: reflection, still living, holes, etc.
  • despair vs. ego integrity (dying)  guide for writing: reflection (looking forward/looking back, echoes, etc.)
Even though you don't necessarily need to write about a day to remember with a partner, you might want to take this initiative as an opportunity to write about a day to remember on your memoir story list or to revise a story or your memorable day in the past.  As you do so, you might want to think about the stages above and re-evaluate what you have written.  What stage were you in at the time the occurrence took place?  What were you trying to do or what need were you trying to fulfill?  How does this reflection impact the step you are on now and the need your psyche is trying to meet?

Hopefully, an example of this will follow in the days to come!

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