chapter  2
26 Pages

Autonomy

Living under partition (1886–1913)
ByAntonia Bifulco

This chapter explores the theme of 'autonomy', the second stage in Erikson's developmental scheme. It describes the author's grandparents' birth, background, childhood and early adulthood in Poland in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The chapter covers the debates over Polish autonomy, both in terms of the author's grandparents' developing identity as Poles and the drive for Polish national independence at the end of the nineteenth century. Learning autonomy is one of the key tasks of development, when a child can learn to become a separate entity from its parents, to acquire competencies and grow self-reliance. If this task should fail or be incomplete, then there are impediments to competence, coping and relationships. Autonomy, when underdeveloped, results in a high level of dependency, lack of a sense of responsibility and often an exaggerated estimate of other people's worth at the expense of one's own.