This book collects three early papers that—along with Childhood and Society—many consider the best introduction to Erikson's theories.
"Ego Development and Historical Change" is a selection of extensive notes in which Erikson first undertook to relate to each other observations on groups studied on field trips and on children studied longitudinally and clinically. These notes are representative of the source material used for Childhood and Society.
"Growth and Crises of the Health Personality" takes Erikson beyond adolescence, into the critical stages of the whole life cycle.
In the third and last essay, Erikson deals with "The Problem of Ego Identity" successively from biographical, clinical, and social points of view—all dimensions later pursued separately in his work.