A Comparison Between Freud And Erikson

Comparing theories of development:

Psycho-sexual theory of Sigmund Freud and psycho-social theory of Erik Erikson are two well known theories of development. Although they are influenced by Freud’s ideas, Erikson’s theory differs in an important measure of the first. Erikson, like Freud, believed that personality develops in a series of predetermined stages. Unlike the theory of psychosexual stages of Freud, Erikson’s theory describes the impact of social experience across the entire existence. Compare and contrast these two theories by looking at the big picture of development stages presented in the table below.

Approximative Age

Stages of psycho – sexual development Freud

Stages of psychosocial development Erikson

Birth to 1 year

Oral Stage

The primary source of pleasure of a child through mouth via sucking, eating, taste.

Trust vs. Distrust

Children learn to trust or not.

1 -3 years

Anal Stage

Children develop an awareness and understanding by controlling physiological needs.

Autonomy vs. Doubt

Children gain experience through control actions such as eating, walking to the bathroom, talking.

3 – 6 years

Phallic Stage

Sexual energy is focused on the genitals. Children begin to identify with the same –sex parents.

Initiative vs. Fault

Children begin to take control on the environment.

7 – 11 years

Latent period

Sexual energy is suppressed and children focus on their activities: school, friends and hobbies.

Competence vs. Inferiority

Children develop a sense of competence and acquire new skills.


Genital Stage

Children begin to explore romantic relationships.

Identity vs. Confusion

Children develop a distinct identity, they identify themselves.


According to Freud, genital stage continues in adulthood. He believed that everybody’s purpose is to create a balance between all aspects of life.

Privacy vs. Isolation

Young adults look for love and company.

Achievement vs. Stagnation

Adults educate others and contribute to society.

Integrity vs. Despair

The old man reflects on his life, looking back with a sense of accomplishment or bitterness.

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