Compare and Contrast Erik Erikson & Sigmund Freud

Compare and Contrast Erik Erikson & Sigmund Freud This research paper will compare and contrast two of the most influencial psychologists who helped shape the way we understand the development of the human mind; Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson. The paper will focus on the similarities and differences between Freud’s Psycho-sexual theory, and Erikson’s psychosocial theory. Freud was one of the very first influencial psychologists who changed the way we study humans.

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Erikson recognized Freud’s contributions, and although he felt Freud misjudged some important dimensions of human development, he was still influenced by Freud, which caused some similarities in their theories. . Even though Erikson had eight stages compared to Freud’s five, you can see that Erikson’s first five stages hold some similarities to Freud’s five stages. The first similarity that can be seen is that each stage in both psychologists’ theories takes place around approximately the same age. First stage takes place from birth to about one year.

Second stage is about one year to age three. Third stage is age three until approximately five or six. Fourth stage is from age six until the onset of puberty. And the rest of the stages take place from puberty onward. After puberty is the last of Freud stages while Erikson’s continue on to three more stages. The next similarity between the two theorists can be seen in the fact that both agree bad experiences in early childhood can create negative effects which can cause unhealthy adulthood and improper progress through the later stages.

Freud called this a fixation and says it happens when a child “remains locked in an earlier developmental stage”. A good example of this can occur when the child is one and a half to three years old during the anal stage. While toilet training, if the parents are too strict or punish the child this can have negative effects. Later on in life the child could grow up to be somewhat obsessive compulsive and could literally take on an anal personality. This same idea is reflected in Erikson’s second stage: Autonomy versus shame and doubt, which occurs around the same age as Freud’s anal stage (1-3 years old).

Erikson believed that during this age children begin realizing that they have a will and they begin to understand that their actions are their own. Children will begin to accept and proclaim their own independence. However, just like Freud, Erikson believed that if parents are too strict with their children, or punished them too harshly this could result with the child having unhealthy feelings of shame and doubt. There is another similarity seen at another period in each theorist’s stages of development.

Freud’s last stage is called the Genital Stage and takes place from puberty onward. This stage is described as “a time of sexual reawakening” and the young adult looks outside the family in search of sexual pleasure. After some time the person will be able to become an independent adult and will involve themselves in a mature, loving relationship. Freud has a stage similar to Freud’s genital stage, although he believed this developmental part of a person’s life occurred later than at the onset of puberty.

He called this stage Intimacy versus Isolation and believed it happened during early adulthood when a person is in their twenties or thirties. Similar to Freud, Erikson saw this stage as a time when a person will start attempting to form intimate relationships with others. Unlike Freud however, Erikson did not believe the person’s motivation would necessarily be physically or sexually driven. Although an intimate relationship is strongly desired, the person will also look to form healthy friendships.

If the young adult creates these friendships, and finds a loving intimate relationship than they have reached intimacy. If the young adult does not succeed in their desires, then this will cause feelings of isolation. Although there were similarities between Freud’s and Erikson’s theories, there are also many important differences. One of the most important differences between Freud’s psycho-sexual theory and Erikson’s psychosocial theory is that Freud’s theory focuses highly on sex and pleasure areas of the body called erogenous zones.

Freud’s theory consists of five different pleasure stages of life. It begins with the oral stage between birth to eighteen months. In this stage the pleasure centers on the mouth. The next stage in Freud’s theory is the anal stage which occurs between ages eighteen months to three years old, in this stage pleasure centres around the anus. The next stage is the phallic stage, occurs between ages three to six, and pleasure focuses on the genitals of the child. The next stage is the Latent stage, which occurs between ages six to ten.

During this stage all interest in sex is repressed and child begins to develop social and intellectual skills. The final stage in Freud’s theory is the genital stage which occurs during puberty. Through their theories, works and lives we can see many differences and similarities between these two influential theorists. From Freud’s five psycho-sexual stages to Erikson’s eight psychosocial stages, it is easy to see that these two psychologists have created a stepping stone for all psychologists and people to study and look back on as we develop in our own lives today.


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