Individuation and attachment in personality development: Extending Erikson's theory


  • The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Brinton Lykes, Abigail Stewart, and two anonymous reviewers in reading and commenting on earlier drafts of this paper For typing this manuscript, our gratitude goes to Deborah Reed and Marcia Johnston

Requests for reprints should be sent to Carol E Franz, Department of Psychology, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215


The question of whether Erikson's theory of psychosocial development is a complete and coherent view of development in males and females is considered After a thorough review of Erikson's views on the role of sex in psychosocial development, the authors suggest that an important element is neglected in Erikson's account of personality development in both sexes That is, due to his focus on issues of identity, Erikson does not account fully for the development of intimacy or other expressions of interpersonal attachment The authors conclude that the major shortcoming of Erikson's theory is not, as some feminists have argued, that it is a male theory but that it fails to account adequately for the processes of interpersonal attachment that are essential to the development of both males and females Preliminary elements of a two-path model of development are proposed