Freud vs. Erickson on Stages of Development

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Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson are two of psychology's developmental forerunners, each one having his own theory behind personality and the elements of advancing through the stages of life. Erikson is known as a Freudian ego-psychologist. His theories came after Freud's and build on Freud's original work. Both of these psychologists have some common similarities and some differences as well. The theories are separated into stages of a person's life according to age and how well a person will adapt and thrive as an adult if a certain quality or characteristic is acquired during each stage. Both of these theories are very similar, as they both have many of the same dividing age groups for development. However, there are several differences that remain between the names of the stages and the developmental issues that are encountered within them.

There are three ways in which Erikson's stages of development are different from Freud's stages of development. First Erikson placed substantially less importance on the individual's sexual drive as a factor in normal development. Instead Erikson focused his stages on the development and emergence of a sense of identity. Also, unlike Freud, Erikson proposed that a person's sense of identity was not completely developed during adolescents but instead continued to develop and evolve throughout a person's life. Finally, Erikson downplayed the importance of maturation in cognitive development and instead focused on the importance of cultural demands placed on children during specific age transitions in their life. (Bee and Boyd, 2004, 257). For example potty training at an early age was culturally demanded especially in industrialized countries where children need to go to day care or pre-schools where it is easier to have all the children use the toilet as opposed to having to change diapers. While Erikson would take the position that toilet training at an early age was culturally influenced, Freud would say that potty training was a natural progression in skills due to maturation and the need to meet the needs of an anal psychosexual tension. Erikson's Eight Stages of Life Development

Erikson's theory on development focuses on a crisis that occurs at each stage of development. This crisis needs to be resolved before further development can occur. The first stage occurs in infancy between birth and the age of 1. Here the crisis is trust vs. mistrust. If the basic needs of the infant are met then they learn to trust, and will be more trusting as they develop. However if they are neglected and their basic needs are not met, especially by their maternal figure, then they will resolve this crisis in the negative and be mistrustful throughout their development, or until they are able to resolve this crisis in the positive. I found through various babysitting experiences when I was a teenager, that children whose parents were supportive and provided their children with a balance of discipline and affection were the easiest to care for. They were better behaved when the parents left, and they did not act out when the parents returned. This shows that children in caring and supportive home environments had learned to trust, and as a result felt comfortable and secure even when their parents were not around.

The second stage of development occurs in early childhood between the ages of two and three. Here the crisis is autonomy vs. shame and doubt. (Bee and Boyd, 2004, 257). The major influential people in their life are the parental figures. This crisis involves the development of self-reliance skills like toileting, feeding one's self, dressing, and hygiene. If the crisis is resolved in the negative, and these basic skills are not attained to the satisfaction of the child, then they will be ashamed they have not mastered these skills and have longing pains of guilt. My son is autistic and so mastering these basic skills took longer than most children. Although I did notice that as...
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