Erik Erikson, Human Strength and the Cycle of Generations

Discussion Questions, pp. 111-119


Please prepare the following questions:


1.     What does Erikson mean by human “virtues”? 

2.     How does Erikson compare early human development with that of other animals.  Why is the difference significant?

3.     What does he mean by the following:  “In human life in particular, the vulnerability of being newly born and the meekness of innocent needfulness have a power all their own”?  To what “power” does he refer?

4.     Erikson writes: “If we ascribe to the healthy infant the rudiments of Hope, it would indeed by hard to specify the criteria for this state, and harder to measure it: yet he who has seen a hopeless child, knows what is not there.”  Do you agree?  Why?

5.     What, then, does he mean by “hope”?

6.     Erikson assume that religious sentiment is, at a fundamental level, childlike.  Do you agree?

7.     Upon what, says Erikson, does the emergence of hope depend?

8.     What does he mean when he says, “To the human infant, his mother is nature”?