Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual theory and Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory are two eminent philosophies of development. While he was influenced by Freud’s notions, Erikson’s theory fluctuated in a quantity of significant ways. Like Freud, Erikson alleged that personality progresses in a sequence of encoded stages. Unlike Freud’s theory of psychosexual stages.given the predictable timeline of childhood behavior, he proposed “libido development” as a model of normal childhood sexual development, wherein the child progresses through five psychosexual stages. Erikson’s theory describes the effect of social experience athwart the entire lifecycle, which include eight stages of psychosocial development of infancy to adulthood and during each stage, the person experiences a psychosocial crisis, which could have a positive or negative results for personality development.

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The comparison and contrast of the two theories by looking at some of the key similarities and differences at each stage.

The dual theories of development both emphasis on the importance of early experiences, but there are notable differences between Freud’s and Erikson’s ideas. Freud lectured on the importance of feeding, while Erikson was more concerned with how responsive concierges are to a child’s needs.

Trust vs. mistrust: Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development at the age from birth to 1 year
The first stage of Erikson centers around the infant is basic needs being met by the parents and this interaction leading to trust and mistrust.

Children acquire to either trust or mistrust their parents based on the substances and comfort they get.

The care that grown-ups deliver regulates whether children develop this sense of trust in the world around them.

Progenies who do not receive adequate and dependable care may develop a sense of mistrust of others and the world.

Oral stage: Freud’s Psychosexual Development at the age from birth to 1 year The first stage of psychosexual development is the oral stage, spanning from birth until the age of one year.

The infant’s mouth is the focus of libidinal gratification derived from the pleasure of feeding at the mother’s breast, and from the oral exploration of his or her environment, e.g the tendency to place objects in the mouth, every action is based upon the pleasure principle.

The infantile ego is forming during the oral stage; two factors contribute to its formation: the first one is developing a body image, he or she is discrete from the external world, e.g. the child understands pain when it is applied to his or her body, thus identifying the physical boundaries between body and environment, the secondly is experiencing delayed gratification leads to understanding that specific behaviors satisfy some needs, e.g. crying gratifies certain needs.

Complications with this stage can effect in what Freud quantified to as an oral fixation.

While there are a number of differences between Erikson and Freud’s ideas, their theories both focus on how children develop a sense of independence and mastery.

Autonomy vs. shame/ doubt stage: Psychosocial Development at the age of 1 year to 3 years.

 Erikson termed this the autonomy versus shame and doubt stage.

Children develop self-sufficiency by controlling activities such as eating, toilet training, and talking.

Those who make it at this stage develop a sense of independence while those who struggle will be left doubting themselves.

Anal stage: Psychosexual Development at the age of 1 year to 3 years
The second stage of psychosexual development is the anal stage, spanning from the age of eighteen months to three years, wherein the infant’s erogenous zone changes from the mouth, which is the upper digestive tract to the anus that is the lower digestive tract, while the ego formation continues.

Toilet training is the child’s key anal-stage experience, occurring at about the age of two years.
The style of parenting influences the resolution of the id–ego conflict, which can be either gradual or psychologically uneventful, or which can be sudden and psychologically traumatic.

The ideal resolution of the id–ego conflict is in the child’s adjusting to moderate parental demands that teach the value and importance of physical cleanliness and environmental order, thus producing a self-controlled adult.

Yet, if the parents make immoderate demands of the child, by over-emphasizing toilet training, it might lead to the development of a compulsive personality, a person too concerned with neatness and order.

If the child obeys the id, and the parents yield, he or she might develop a self-indulgent personality characterized by personal slovenliness and environmental disorder
Those who have problems at this stage may develop an anal fixation. As adults, they might be excessively orderly or messy.

STAGE: CHILDREN FROM 3 YEARS TO 6 YEARS.Throughout the preschool and early elementary years, Freud’s theory was much more concerned with the role of the libido while Erikson’s theory was more focused on how children interact with parents and peers.

Phallic stage: Freud’s Theory of psychosexual development at the age of 3 years to 6 years.

The third stage of psychosexual development is the phallic stage spanning the ages of three to six years
The libido’s energy is focused on the genitals. Children begin to identify with their same-sex parent.

Oedipus: Despite mother being the parent who primarily gratifies the child’s desires, the child begins forming a discrete sexual identity. The boy focuses his libido “sexual desire” upon his mother, and focuses jealousy and emotional rivalry against his father because his mother give more attention to his father.

Electra Girls develop sexual feelings for their fathers and feel jealous when more attention is given to their mom’s; they feel like competing with their mothers.

Erikson’s Theory psychosocial development at the age of 3 to 6 years.Erikson has called this the initiative versus guilt stage.

Children begin to take more control over their environment.

Those who are successful at this stage develop a sense of purpose while those who struggle are left with feelings of guilt.


Freud believed that this age served as more of a transitional period between childhood and adolescence. Erikson, on the other hand, believed that kids continue to forge a sense of independence and competence.

Latency stage: Psychosexual Development at the age of 7 to 11 years.

The fourth stage of psychosexual development is the latency stage that spans from the age of six years until puberty, wherein the child consolidates the character habits he or she developed in the three, earlier stages of psychological and sexual development.

Whether or not the child has successfully resolved the oedipal conflict, the instinctual drives of the id are inaccessible to the Ego, because his or her defense mechanisms repressed them during the phallic stage.

Hence, because said drives are latent “hidden” and gratification is delayed unlike during the preceding oral, anal, and phallic stage, the child must derive the pleasure of gratification from secondary process-thinking that directs the libidinal drives towards external activities, such as schooling, friendships, hobbies.

Psychosocial Development at the age of 7 to 11 years. Erikson called this the industry versus inferiority stage.

Children develop a sense of competence by mastering new skills.

Kids who succeed at this stage develop pride in their accomplishments while those who struggle may be left, feeling incompetent.

STAGE: Adolescence Period.Adolescence played a critical role in both Freud’s and Erikson’s theories of development. In both theories, teens begin to forge their own sense of identity.

Genital stage: Freud’s Theory of psychosexual development based on adolescence.

The fifth stage of psychosexual development is the genital stage that spans puberty through adult life, and thus represents most of a person’s life; its purpose is the psychological detachment and independence from the parents.
The genital stage affords the person the ability to confront and resolve his or her remaining psychosexual childhood conflicts.

As in the phallic stage, the genital stage is centered upon the genitalia, but the sexuality is consensual and adult, rather than solitary and infantile.

Children begin to explore romantic relationships
Erikson’s Theory of psychosocial development based on adolescence.

Erikson’s called this point in psychosocial development the identity versus role confusion stage.

Children develop a personal identity and sense of self.

Teens explore different roles, attitudes, and identities as they develop a sense of self.

Those who receive support and encouragement will emerge with a strong sense of who they are and what they want to accomplish.

Those who struggle to forge a strong identity will remain confused about whom they are and what they want to do with their life.

Freud’s theory focused entirely on development between birth and the teen-age years, implying that personality is largely set in stone by early childhood. Erikson, on the other hand, took a lifespan approach and believed that development continues even in to old age.

Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Development:
Freud’s theory emphases on the period between birth and adolescence.

Conferring to Freud, the genital stage persists throughout adulthood. He alleged the goal is to develop a balance between all areas of life.

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development:
Erikson’s’ theory comprises three more stages that extent adulthood. These three stages are:
Intimacy vs. Isolation: Young adults seek out romantic love and companionship.

Generativist vs. Stagnation: Middle-aged adults nurture others and contribute to society.

Integrity vs. Despair: Older adults reflect on their lives, looking back with a sense of fulfillment or bitterness.

To sum up, the two theories by Freud and Erikson have a great impact and contribution to developmental psychology. Generally, even though there exists a few similitudes between these theories, factual and significant contrasts are seen too. McLeod, S.A. stated that the stage in Freud’s theory are those that can be physically seen while in Erikson’s theory, social collaboration in a person’s lifespan has been given the major significance.

Erikson saw a dynamic at work throughout life, one that did not stop at adolescence. He also viewed the life stages as a cycle: the end of one generation was the beginning of the next. Seen in its social context, the life stages were linear for an individual but circular for societal development. Sigmud freud confirms that although personality traits corresponding to the oral stage, the anal stage, the phallic stage, the latent stage, and the genital stage are observable, they remain undetermined as fixed stages of childhood, and as adult personality traits derived from childhood.

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Gross, Francis L. (1987). Introducing Erik Erikson: An Invitation to his Thinking. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. p. 47.
Slater, Charles L. (2003), “Generativity versus stagnation: An elaboration of erikson’s adult stage of human development”, Journal of Adult Development, 10 (1): 53–65
Crain, William (2011). Theories of Development: Concepts and Applications (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.


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