Difference Between Erikson and Freud (With Table)

Development is something that keeps happening in a human being till he dies. Therefore it becomes important that how the process of development takes place and how it affects the human and what changes and needs are required during this process. Therefore to better understand this process of developing, several psychologists have given various theories, among which the most famous theories are which is given by Erikson and Freud.

Erikson vs Freud

The difference between both Erikson and Freud is the expansion of the theory. Freud only expanded his theory till a certain age as he believes a human develops fully in his initial age, but on the other hand, Erikson expanded his theory till old age as he believed that a human tends to develop during old age too.

Erikson introduced the psychosocial theory, which was based on Identity and Cultural demands. He covers all the stages of human life, including Adulthood too. He divided the stages of human development into eight different stages. The main focus of his theory was the Social and Environmental Factors.

Freud introduced the Psychosexual Theory, he mainly belief the most important Stage of human development is the early stage, and the personality of a human is developed in the initial years only. He gave more importance to the basic needs and biological factors and explained the importance of maturation.

Comparison Table Between Erikson and Freud

Parameters of ComparisonEriksonFreud
TheoriesPsychosocial theoryPsychosexual theory
Main focusSocial and environmental factorsBasic Needs and Biological Factors.
IncludesIncludes AdulthoodEnds up early till adolescence
BeliefsHe believes that development does not stop; it continues till old age.He believes that the development takes place in the initial years only.
Theory Based onIdentity and cultural demands.Sex (importance of maturation)

What is Erikson?

Erikson was the famous psychologist who introduced the Psychosocial Theory. The different stages of Psychosocial Theory are:

  1. Trust vs Mistrust (Birth to 1 year): this Stage explains the importance of trust between the child and their caretaker and how a child can have mistrust if proper care and love is not given to him during this age.
  2. Autonomy vs shame and doubt (Age 1-3 years): during this age, a child becomes self-sufficient by learning simple things of how to eat by himself.
  3. Initiative vs Guilt (Age3-6 years): during this stage, the child starts developing interpersonal skills by interacting with other children.
  4. Industry vs Inferiority (Age 7-11 Years): in this stage child learns new skills such as reading and writing.
  5. Identity vs Role Confusion: this is the Stage where adolescence starts, and the child develops a new attitude, skills, explores different roles, etc. 
  6. Intimacy vs Isolation: during this Stage, young people start having relationships with their partners, seeking love and companionship.
  7. Generativity vs Stagnation: during this age human looks after the society and builds a family.
  8. Integrity vs Despair: this the older Stage of a human where it remembers the old time.

What is Freud?

The psychosexual theory was introduced by Freud, which has the following stages on human development:

  1. Oral Stage (Brith-1 Year): As described in theory, this Stage is related to having pleasure through eating and tasting. Difficulty in this Stage can result in oral fixation.
  2. Anal Stage (1-3 years): during this Stage, controlling bladder and bowel movement is achieved. 
  3. Phallic Stage (3-6 years): during this age, children learn how they are different based on their sex, boys face the Oedipus complex, and Girls face the Electra complex.
  4. Latent Period (7-11 years): During this stage child becomes more familiar with their friends and school activities and tends to focus more on them.
  5. Genital Stage: during this Stage, as explained by the Freud, Adolescences period starts, and they begin to develop more romantic relations and companionships.

Therefore Freud ended the stages of his theory at Adolescence period as he describes how impactful these initial years are and how a child fully developed during these years and therefore this only becomes the major drawback of his theory that he did not include Adulthood and after stages of human life as discusses by the Erikson.

Main Differences Between Erikson and Freud

  1. Erikson introduced the Psychosocial Theory, and Freud introduced the Psychosexual Theory.
  2. The main focus of Erikson’s theory was the social and environmental factors, and the main focus of Freud’s theory was the basic needs and biological factors.
  3. The main difference was that Erikson explained the whole life, including Adulthood, but Freud only covers a part of life, which ended up early.
  4. Erikson believes that development does not stop at an early age, every individual keeps developing during old age too, but Freud did not believe the same and explained how development takes place only during the Initial Stage of life.
  5. Erikson’s theory was based on the Identity and cultural demands of any individual, but Freud believes the opposite his theory was mainly based on the importance of maturation.
  6. Further, the names of the different stages were also different in both the theories, such as the First Stage of Freud’s theory was known as the Oral Stage, whereas the first Stage of Erikson’s Theory was known as Trust vs Mistrust.


Both Erikson’s and Freud’s theory despite all the above differences, have many similarities, which include that they both discussed the stages of human life and the important needs. They discussed the impact of the unconscious on the development of a person. It is mostly said that Erikson’s theory was inspired by Freud’s Theory; he just expanded his theory. They both have a similar explanation about different stages of human life. For example, both Erikson and Freud in the first Stage explained how this Stage is built on trust between their caretakers. There are many more such examples of how similar both theories are.


  1. https://docuri.com/download/erik-erikson-psychosocial-stages-simply-psychology_59c1e23ff581710b286a64c6_pdf
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=2aTjDAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA3&dq=Freud+theory&ots=sdHn13dGG9&sig=2pfWAz_I2w36Y6bu9hroIQdS3Mg
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