Evaluate the Developmental Theories of Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson

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HH103 Social Science Perspectives

Assignment 002: Essay evaluating two psychological approaches


In this assignment we shall compare and contrast two psychological theories; Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson who helped to interpret the human behaviour. There will be a summary of the key features of each theory and the evaluation. There will be also the comparison between the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Moreover we shall use the evidence from literature, our own and other people`s experience to back up the statements.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1938) was the one that founded the psychoanalysis and he is widely known for his work around the sexual themes (Sugarman, 1986). His theory is about the developmental process. To fulfil the basic necessities in life such as food, warmth and shelter; Freud developed a theory to meet these needs. The theory is divided into five psychosexual stages namely Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency and Genital. The first stage; Oral stage occurs from infancy and finish at approximately 1 year. This stage focuses on the mouth being the main source of pleasure such as sucking, biting, eating and tasting (Bee et al., 2010). The Anal stage starts from 1 to 3 years. Children start the potty training and learn how to control their bladder and bowel movements (Sheridan, 1997). They also start discovering the feelings that comes with it. The Phallic stage starts from 3 to 6 years. In this stage children`s sexual energy or libido are focussed around genitals. They are fascinated about this and they start to identify the same-sex parent or guardian. In the Latent period which is from 7 to 11 years, children`s sexual energy is reduced and they focus more on activities such as friends, schools and hobbies (Carolyn, 2006). In the last stage; the Genital stage, Freud believed that the genital period is still present from adolescence through to adulthood. This stage is directed towards other areas such as romantic relationships.

Erik Erikson (1902-1994) is well known psychologist and psychoanalyst. He studied under Sigmund Freud and agreed on most of his works but disagreed with his theories that sexuality shape up an individual`s personality (Erikson, 1995). Erikson believed that development takes place throughout an entire life span (Durkin, 1995). After Freud`s death Erikson developed an eight stage developmental theory. The first stage is” Trust versus Mistrust” and it appears from birth to 1 year old. Child develops attachment theory and learns how to trust the mother through feeding and comfort. Child will also see the environment as unfriendly. The second stage is “Autonomy versus Doubt” and it is from 1 to 3 years old. Children use their developing muscles to control activities such as eating, walking, toilet training and talking (Bruce, 1996). The third stage is “Initiative versus Guilt” from 3 to 6 years old. Children are eager to take responsibility and control the environment better. In the fourth stage” Industry versus Inferiority” which is from 7 to 11 years old, children develop their capacities through a mastery of skills (Cobb, 1995). The fifth stage” Identity versus Role confusion” from 12 to 18 years old adolescents start to find their identities and the important event happening is peer relationship ( Adams et al., 1994). Erikson believed that there are three different stages in adult. The intimacy versus isolation stage (19-40 years old) where love relationship occurs. The generativity versus stagnation stage (40 -65 years old) where adults develop the ability to care for another person, products or ideas (Newman, 2002). The final stage is the integrity versus despair (65 years to death), it is the reflection on and acceptance of one`s life. Erik Erikson
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Having looked at both key features we shall now compare and contrast each stage together with examples.

Stage 1

In the first stage according to Freud`s theory by meeting the child`s needs, it leads to the development of independency and trust (Howe et al., 1999). Similarly, Erikson said that if a child develops trust, he or she will be safer in the environment. The weakness is if a child id afraid or feel insecure then developing trust will be difficult. Freud stated that a fixation can lead to the child becoming immature and having unrealistic optimism. ...

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