Freud And Erikson Theory Contrast

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Although these two theories have something in common because they both focus on the significance of child’s early encounters or rather the child’s initial experiences, they also have notable contrast. Whereas Erikson concentrates on the child’s caretaker’s responsiveness to the needs of the child, Feud was concerned with significance of child feeding. Freud believed that development is completed at a relatively early age whereas Erikson believed that development process continued throughout one’s life. Below are some of the contrasts that exist between Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual theory and Eric Erikson’s Psychosocial theory.

Sigmund Freud referred to this stage as to the oral stage

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Freud claimed that at this stage the child had only one source of pleasure, the mouth, through which the baby sucked, ate and tasted.

Oral fixation was one of the challenges that Freud identified at this stage.

Eric Ericson referred to this stage as trust versus mistrust stage where the child learns either by trusting or mistrusting the caregiver.

Here, the child developing sense of trust to their surrounding is dependent on the quality of care from the adults

Not receiving quality, dependable and adequate care normally results to mistrust of the child to the caregivers and their surroundings too.

Age: Between one (1) to three (3) years

Freuds psychosexual developmental stage

Freud referred to this stage as the anal stage of development. At this stage the child learns how to control movement of bladder and bowel.

According to Freud a child who is successful at this stage is bound to have a sense of capability and productivity.

Sigmund claims that those who are unsuccessful at this change are likely to experience anal fixation, which can make things messy.

Erikson’s psychosocial developmental stage

Erikson referred to this stage as autonomy versus shame and doubt stage. According to him, at this stage the child develops self-sufficiency by controlling activities such as eating, toilets training and even talking.

Erikson states that success at this stage implies that the child will be independent whereas those that are not successful are often doubtful to their potential.

Age: Between three (3) years to 6 years

At this stage Freud concentrated on Libido whereas Erikson focused on how the kid interacts with the parents and agemates.

Freuds psychosexual developmental stage

Also referred to as the phallic stage where it generally focuses on genitals and the child identifies same sex parent.

According to Freud boys undergo a process known as Oedipus complex whereas the girls go through the electra complex process.

Erikson’s psychosocial developmental stage

Erikson referred to this stage as the initiative versus guilt stage. Here the child learns how to take control of their surrounding.

As the name suggests those that successfully initiate this stage develop sense of purpose whereas those that fail to initiate are left with guilt.

Age: Between seven (7) to Eleven (11) years

Freud believed that at this stage served as a transition period between childhood and adolescence. Erikson believed that at this stage the child continues to forge sense of being dependent and competent.

Freuds psychosexual developmental stage

According to Freud this is a latent period.

He believed that libido’s energy is greatly suppressed at this stage as the child’s energy is redirected to building friendship, school activities and hobbies.

This stage, Freud believed aided in development of confidence and social skills.

Erikson’s psychosocial developmental stage

Erikson also referred to this stage as the industry versus inferiority stage.

Here the child becomes competent by mastering new skills.

A success in this stage builds the child’s ego and pride whereas failing at this stage makes the child feel inferior and incompetent.

Age: Adolescence

This stage plays a vital role in Freud’s and Erikson’s developmental stages as it is where teens realize their sense of identity.

Freuds psychosexual developmental stage

Freud referred to this stage as the genital stage.

Here a child starts exploring romantic relationships.

The significance of this stage is that it helps the child have a balance of life.

Those that have succeeded at this stage are found to be warm and properly adjusted.

Erikson’s psychosocial developmental stage

Erikson referred to this stage as the identity versus role confusion stage.

Here the child gets to establish personal identity and a sense of self.

Supported kids have proven to acquire greater sense of who they are and what they intend to accomplish in life.

On the other hand, those kids that don’t receive support normally tend to remain confused on who they are and what they want to achieve in life.

Age: Adulthood

Freud’s theory concentrated on the development that occurred between birth and adolescence or rather teen years hence implying that childhood forms a very strong foundation in personality development whereas Erikson believed even after old age development still continued to take place.

Freuds psychosexual developmental stage

This theory is found to concentrate on ages between birth to teen age or rather adolescence.

Freud believed that the Genital Stage lasts across adulthood since the main goal here is to develop a balance in all relevant areas of life.

Erikson’s Theory

Here, Erikson included three more theories which are as follows:

  1. Isolation versus Intimacy
  2. Generativity versus Stagnation
  3. Integrity versus Despair
  • Isolation versus Intimacy

at this stage these young adults engage in romantic relationships and seek for companion.

  • Generativity versus Stagnation

This stage focuses on the middle-aged men who contribute to the society and tend to nurture others.

  • Integrity versus Despair

This marks end to Erikson’s theory of personality development. It focuses on young adults who are either fulfilled of better with regards to their past. Reflection is one of its characteristics.


  1. Thomas, R. M. (2000). Comparing theories of child development. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
  2. Franz, C. E., & White, K. M. (1985). Individuation and attachment in personality development: Extending Erikson’s theory. Journal of personality, 53(2), 224-256.
  3. Munley, P. H. (1977). Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development and career development. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 10(3), 261-269.
  4. Wrightsman, L. S. (1988). Personality development in adulthood. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  5. Thomas, A. (1981). Current trends in developmental theory. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 51(4), 580.
  6. Reisner, S. (2001). Freud and Developmental Theory A 21st-Century Look at the Origin Myth or Psychoanalysis. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 2(2), 97-128.


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