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Pseudospecies ( f , sg. And pl.) Is a sociological term coined by Erik H. Erikson in 1968 , which soon gained importance in zoology ( ethology ). It says that social organisms such as humans or ants internally disintegrate into mutually hostile groups that can wagewar ” against one another (“ aggressive ”) . The cause of this pseudospeciation is that the species are so biologically and ecologically superior to "predators" due to their sociality that the normal selection process is no longer sufficient to maintain hereditary health (against degeneration ). If pseudospecies remain geographically isolated (genetic isolates ) long enough , for example as a result of ice ages, they can become “good” species.

Erikson used this term to interpret z. B. introduced by tendencies towards the formation of gangs in young people, which he derives from conditions in prehistoric people and "primitives", but which are not so innate that they necessarily occur. It was Erikson's goal (in Identity: Youth and Crisis ) to show the dangers posed by the formation of pseudospecies in the atomic age. Supporters of milieu theories (psycho- and sociologists) try to prove such a view to be unjustified and superfluous, because its assumption tempts one to accept pseudospecies as “inescapably natural”.

In the Ethological Dictionary by Armin Heymer (1977: 134) it says: « The rapid, culturally controlled evolution of humans harbors a danger: cultures form quickly and, due to their special cultural patterns, encapsulate themselves from others; and the different cultures or nations relate to one another like "biological species". Erikson therefore also referred to them as pseudospecies - this isolation can ultimately have no other cause than an "innate" one (it once proved to be beneficial for survival); but today the drive towards pseudospeciation may have decreased so much that it no longer necessarily has to continue to have an effect (at least in adults) ».

Francisco J. Gil-White gave a very balanced description of the phenomenon and its consequences, collected from nomadic tribes of Mongolia , as well as conclusions from it in his dissertation 2001. The question was whether pseudospecies represent real beings or only in the "imagination" insist on belonging to them. Christopher Malden (2009) provided a popular illustration.


  • Erikson, Erik H. "Pseudospeciation in the nuclear age." Political Psychology (1985): 213-217.

Individual evidence

  1. Georgios Tsiakalos (1992): Intercultural Relationships: Is "Nature" Opposed to Them ? In: "A master race of subjects": Racism - Nationalism - Sexism. Andreas Foitzik, Rudolf Leiprecht, Athanasios Marvakis, Uwe Seid, September 25, 2006, accessed on March 26, 2010 .
  3. Dangerous mind. On the origin of pseudo species.