Freud’s theory talks about 5 psychosexual stages through which personality development occurs. These stages of development occur from birth till 18 years of age. According to this theory, if a particular stage is not completed successfully, the individual will be fixated on that stage and will carry the consequences into adult life. The first stage is from birth to age 1 where the main source of pleasure is the mouth – through eating, tasting and sucking. The anal stage occurs from age 1 to 3; here children achieve a sense of competence as they learn to control bowel and bladder movements. The phallic stage occurs from age 3 to 6; here the genitals are a source of focus. The latency stage occurs from age 7 to 11; here children focus on activities like hobbies, school and friend rather than the libido. The last stage is adolescence or the genital stage where romantic relationships become important.
Erikson’s theory describes eight stages of development. The first stage “basic trust vs. mistrust” occurs from birth to age 1; here children learn trust or mistrust through people that care for them. In the “autonomy vs. shame and doubt” stage, 1 to 3 years, children develop a sense of self-sufficiency as they learn to control their bowel movement, eating and talking. In the “initiative vs. guilt” stage, 3 to 6 years, children begin to take more control over their immediate environment. The” industry vs. inferiority” stage occurs from age 7 to 11 when children develop their sense of competence as they learn new skills. “Identity vs. role confusion” stage occurs from age 12 to 18; children develop a sense of self and identify. The “intimacy vs. isolation” occurs in the 20’s; here as young adults, individuals seek companionship and romantic relationships. The “generativity vs. self-absorption” stage occurs in the 20’s to 50’s, middle-aged adults contribute to society. The last stage is “integrity vs. despair” and occurs from age 50 and up; here older adults look back on their lives with either a sense of accomplishment or regret.
Erickson’s theory builds on Freud’s theory, so that means that both theories agree to some extent, Freud’s theory is the foundation for Erikson’s work. The theories are similar in that they talk about development as occurring in progressive stages. The age divisions for the stages of development are also similar in both theories. This shows that within certain stages in life, there are developmental tasks that are a person is faced with and need to complete for healthy growth and personality development.
The theories also have important differences. The main difference between the two theories is the factor they identify as being responsible for how personality development occurs. Freud’s theory identifies pleasure and biological needs as the main factor and focuses on specific organs for each stage of development. On the other hand, Erikson’s theory emphasizes cultural and social factors. I agree with Erikson’s theory and see it as more accurate because it provides a broader analysis of the factors that influence how personality develops, the environment in which a person is raised affects how the person grows. Children who are raised in positive, loving homes feel protected, learn to trust and are more confident growing up whether their parents are rich or poor. Biological needs alone cannot shape personality development. Just learning how to control body functions and then having hobbies and going to school do not build personality. Children who are raised in good homes and have all the material support and opportunities they need may still develop personality challenges.
A second difference in the theories is that the stages in both theories have different names and different developmental tasks are found within each stage. For instance while the “anal stage” in Freud’s theory focuses on the control of bowel and bladder movement, Erikson’s “autonomy vs. shame and doubt” stage includes talking and eating in addition to bowel and bladder control. I agree with Erickson on the range of development tasks and their effects on the personality. I think that Freud’s theory is very limited because other activities go on in the life of a child at that stage and all those activities are important. The control of bladder and bowel movements alone is not the only important task the child learns. Talking and trying to communicate with others in the environment is very important. I think is even more important because the child learns from the people around him for instance a Spanish born baby when raised in the US can learn to speak English right from childhood and will show some behaviors adopted from the culture and environment. We see cultural and personality differences in school when there are students from different parts of the world.
Also, the stages of development in Freud’s theory stop at adolescence while Erikson’s theory describes personality development throughout an individual’s lifespan. I agree with Erikson’s that development continues all through life. Fixations can be resolved at any stage, and growth can occur at different rate for different people. For instance, a child who does not make a lot of friends in Freud’s latent stage ages 7 to 11, can make friends in their later years, nurture others, and take good care of their family in their adult years. Also, children are not just focused on relationships in adolescence; they also struggle to understand themselves and what they want to be in future Erikson’s theory says.