Joan Erikson explores the crucial role played by the physical sense at every stage of psychological growth from birth to old age, finding parallels between the creation of art as we usually define it and the creation of self-the most artful act of all. In the experience of making and doing, she located a primary source of human growth and vitality. Wisdom and the Senses is itself a celebration of art, with the progressive stages in the life cycle revealed through woven charts, reproduced here in full color. The work of artists, much as the words and ideas of Joan Erikson, takes us on a journey of understanding that leads to the meaning of wisdom.
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(208mm x 140mm x 17mm)
WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
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US Kirkus Review »
The getting of wisdom in later life, built on the model of developmental psychology that Joan Erikson pioneered with her husband Erik almost 40 years ago. Only fully achieved in old age, wisdom, Erikson argues, must be the focus of all stages of life. Sagacity is to be gained in sensory experience, sharpened and refined over the years through creative activity. An artist herself, Erikson has written (with David and Joan Loveless) of her clinical experiments with art therapy in Activity, Recovery, Growth (1976). Artists and children are the privileged figures in his new book, and Erikson suggests we can all profit from the sense of wonder children bring to the world, denouncing an educational system that puts logical and linguistic thinking ahead of sensory development. The author often draws on childhood reminiscences of eminent artists and thinkers; yet the volume goes astray when she turns the floor over to three artist-friends whose testimonials add little to her own thesis. And she gets bogged down in a needlessly laborious explication of developmental psychology. Erikson is at her best when illuminating qualities of wisdom one attains in old age - resilience, humility, interdependence - and decrying false shibboleths like status, wealth, and power. No ground-breaking insights, but overall an accessible companion-piece to Erik Erikson's model of the life cycle, with Joan Erikson's own homespun thoughts on becoming wise. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Joan M. Erikson
Joan Mowat Erikson was born in Canada; she earned her B.A. in Education at Columbia University and an M.A. in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a teacher, writer, and craftsman and has worked with gold, silver, and precious stones. She is the author of a previous book, The Universal Bead. She is married to the noted psychoanalyst Erik H. Erikson.