Critically compare and contrast Freud and Erikson’s stage theories of development, and debate how well each has been supported by research.
Among early developmental theories, the most influential and controversial theory of development was proposed by Sigmund Freud. Freud proposed psychosexual stages of development, which changed the entire view on the child’s development (Storr, 1989). Erickson followed the footsteps of Freud but disagreed with his psychosexual stages to some extent and proposed his psychosocial stages of development. Although there are lots of similarities as Erickson theory of development is heavily influenced by Freud’s work, but it is also very different in its own unique way (Bee, 1992). This essay is focused on similarities and differences between these two theories and also research for and against each theory.
Freud (1905) proposed that child development happens in fixed stages, which he named as psychosexual stages of development. He introduced the concept of libido, which is concentrated on different erogenous zones during different stages of development. Freud believed that if psychosexual stages are completed successfully, a healthy personality is developed, but if a conflict is not resolved at any stage, a fixation can occur, which means that individual will be stuck at that stage until the conflict is resolved. Erickson (1958) also believed that development takes place in the form of predetermined stages, but instead of five, he proposed eight stages. He suggested that development of healthy personality is formed by mastering the inner and outer dangers and if a certain capacity is not formed at its schedule, it can have unfavourable consequences on the development.
According to Freud and Erickson, the first stage starts from birth and lasts approximately up to a year. Freud (1905) called this an oral stage and the libido is concentrated on the mouth area. The infant drives the pleasure from the mouth by sucking, feeding and biting. Freud believed an over oral stimulation leads to oral receptive personality which results in over dependent and self-centred individual. Whereas, under oral stimulation could lead to an oral aggressive personality i.e., scornful, greedy and pessimistic. Erickson (1950) on the other hand, called this stage as Trust vs. Mistrust and suggests that during this stage; child is dependent on the caregiver for his needs and the quality of care defines the personality of the person. This stage is comparable to Freud Oral stage as Ericson believed that failure to develop trust between infant and caregiver will result in mistrust in the self and the world, which is similar to oral aggressive personality traits. But too much protectiveness can lead to over-dependence and gullibility which are also the traits of oral receptive personality. The balance is required to achieve a healthy personality by both Freud and Erickson (Gay, 1988).
The second stage in psychosexual stages is an anal stage, which starts at around 1 year up to 3 years. Freud suggested that libido is centred at the anus and child draws pleasure from controlling bowel movements. Fixation at this stage can either lead to anal retentive personality, which means a stringy, extraordinary orderly, rigid and obsessive personality or anal expulsive, which is a very messy, disorganised and rebellious personality. According to psychosocial stages, this stage is called autonomy versus doubt, child develop some self-sufficiency during this stage and like Freud, Ericson also believed that potty training plays an important role during this age but refused the idea that this stage can only be defined by potty training. Erickson suggests that self esteem is build at this stage through gaining control over major muscular development; holding bowels is required for a child’s self esteem.
According to Freud, the third stage of development, phallic stage is very important in a child’s development. This...
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