Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thought for the Day: Erik Erikson on Non-Procreative Generativity

There are individuals who, through misfortune or because of special and genuine gifts in other directions, do not apply this drive [i.e., of generativity] to their own offspring. And indeed, the concept of generativity is meant to include such more popular synonyms as productivity and creativity.

Erik Erikson, Identity and the Life Cycles (NY: Norton, 1959) (p. 103).

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I must add that as a principle [generativity] corresponds to what in Hinduism is called the maintenance of the world, that middle period of the life cycle when existence permits you and demands you to consider death as peripheral and to balance its certainty with the only happiness that is lasting: to increase, by whatever is yours to give, the good will and the higher order in your sector of the world. That, to me, can be the only adult meaning of that strange word happiness.

Erik Erikson, Dimensions of a New Identity (NY: Norton, 1974) (as cited, Cheryl Merser, “Grown Ups”: A Generation in Search of Adulthood [NY: Putnam’s, 1987]. p. 205).