Erikson vs Freud: Difference and Comparison

Development is something that keeps happening in a human being till he dies. Therefore it becomes essential to how the development process takes place, how it affects humans, and what changes and needs are required.

Therefore to better understand this development process, several psychologists have given various theories, among which the most famous are those provided by Erikson and Freud.

Key Takeaways

  1. Erikson’s theory emphasizes the importance of social and cultural factors in human development, while Freud’s theory focuses more on unconscious drives and instincts.
  2. Erikson’s theory suggests that development occurs throughout the lifespan, while Freud’s theory proposes that development is mostly completed in childhood.
  3. Erikson’s theory includes eight stages of psychosocial development, while Freud’s theory includes five stages of psychosexual development.

Erikson vs Freud

Freud only expanded his theory till a certain age as he believed a human developed fully in his initial era. Still, on the other hand, Erikson expanded his idea till old age as he thought a human tended to develop during the ancient period too.

Erikson vs Freud

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Erikson introduced the psychosocial theory 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 locations.

The main focus of his theory was the Social and Environmental Factors.

Freud introduced the Psychosexual Theory, he mainly belief the most critical 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

Parameters of ComparisonEriksonFreud
TheoriesPsychosocial theoryPsychosexual theory
Main focusSocial and environmental factorsBasic Needs and Biological Factors.
IncludesIncludes AdulthoodIt ends in early adolescence
BeliefsHe believes that development does not stop; it continues till old age.He believes that 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 are 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 to eat alone.
  3. Initiative vs Guilt (Age 3-6 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 and 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 society and builds a family.
  8. Integrity vs Despair: this is the older Stage of a human where it remembers the ancient time.

What is Freud?

The psychosexual theory was introduced by Freud, which has the following stages of 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 sex, boys face the Oedipus complex, and Girls face the Electra complex.
  4. Latent Period (7-11 years): During this stage, the 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 Freud, the Adolescences period starts, and they begin to develop more romantic relations and companionships.

Therefore Freud ended the stages of his theory during the Adolescence period as he describes how impactful these initial years are and how a child fully develops during these years. Therefore, this only becomes the major drawback of his theory that he omitted Adulthood and after stages of human life as discussed by 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 life, including Adulthood, but Freud only covered a part of life which ended up early.
  4. Erikson believes that development does not stop at an early age; everyone also keeps developing during the old period. Still, Freud did not think the same and explained how development occurs 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 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.

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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