Freud vs. Erikson philosophical theories analysis


According to Freud, children undergo psychology stages leading to adult development. Freud’s theory describes how personality develops from childhood to adulthood. The first stage is called the oral stage and it starts from birth to a year. At this stage, the libido is psychosexual energy is focused on the mouth of the baby (Freud, 1905). The baby finds its satisfaction when by putting everything it finds on the mouth to satisfy its libido and id demand. At this stage, the baby sucks, bites and breastfeeds to satisfy its libido.

The second stage is known as this anal stage and it occurs between one and three years. At this stage, the libido is centred around the anus. The baby experiences pleasure when excreting. Their ego is now fully developed and they know that they can get into a conflict with the outside environment because of their wishes. The conflict gets into the baby’s head during potty training when the caretaker controls the baby by dictating when and where to defecate (Freud, 1905). This conflict is vital in determining the future relationship of the kid with authorities. When the care potty trains the baby harshly, they might develop an anal-retentive personality.

The third stage is called the phallic stage and it takes place from 3 to 6 years. Here, the libido is centred around the genitals and both males and females start engaging in masturbation to satisfy their genital pleasure.  Children at this age become aware of differences in sex and conflict begins between the Oedipus complex in girls and the Electra complex in girls.

In the Latency stage, psychosexual development ceases and the libido becomes dormant. Sexual desires are repressed and the child is more focused on schoolwork, friendship and hobbies. The last stage is called the puberty stage and this is where the personality development starts. Sexual desires are not directed to self-pleasure but rather to heterosexual pleasures.

Freud’s theory is strongest in describing abnormal behaviour since the theory explains that when behaviour diverts from self-imposed standards the child experiences a feeling of guilt that gives rise to other abnormal behaviours.

  1. Erikson stages

Trust vs. Mistrust- This stage begins from birth to 12 months and children learn to trust adults who they satisfy their needs(Scheck, 2014). However, they also learn to distrust caregivers who not respond to their needs.  For example, when I was young, I cried whenever my mother was not around because I trusted and loved her.

Autonomy vs. Shame- toddlers between 1 and three years learn to control their actions and develop preferences for certain things. When toddlers ae denied the chance to choose theelements they want they start experiencing shame or doubt. I once refused to go to dinner with my family coz my mother did not allow me to wear my favourite cloth.

Initiative vs. Guilt- between three- and six-years children start doing things on their own to achieve their goals. If they fail to reach these goals, they may experience guilt.At this age, I would start modelling shapes and feel bad if they don’t turn out the way I wanted.

Industry vs. Inferiority- this stage occurs at 6-12 years where children begin to compare themselves with peers and develop a sense of accomplishment. They may feel inferior if they feel that their peers are better.I told my parents to buy me a phone when I was twelve because I saw one of my friends with one.

Identity vs. Role Confusion- Between 12- and 18-years adolescents develops a sense of self and struggle to find their identity.Between 12 and 18 years, I was in the process of discovering my interests, hobbies and talents.

Intimacy vs. Isolation -as people get into adulthood they begin getting into meaningful relationships. They also have a stronger sense of self.

Generativity vs. Stagnation- at age 40, people find their life’s work and help others to develop themselves too through mentorship, volunteering and bringing up children.

Integrity vs. Despair at age 60 people may either feel satisfied or as if they have failed when they look back into their lives.

Erickson is different from Freud in that while Freud focuses on biological forces and basic needs, Erickson bases his theory upon environmental and social factors(Cordón, 2012). Erickson’s theory also goes past puberty to late adulthood.




Cordón, L. A. (2012). Freud’s World: An Encyclopedia of His Life and Times. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Freud, S. (1905). Three essays on the theory of sexuality. Standard Edition 7: 123- 246.

Scheck, S. (2014). The Stages of Psychosocial Development According to Erik H. Erikson. Munich, Germany: GRIN Verlag.

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