Comparing and contrasting Psychosexual and Psychosocial Theories of Development


Comparing and contrasting Psychosexual and Psychosocial Theories of Development

Developmental psychology is a scientific study of changes that occur in children and adults overtime. In this study, the biological, psychological, enthusiastic and social changes that happen over a course of time in people are put into consideration. Sigmund Freud achieved the hypothesis of psychoanalytic advancement, where he trusted that early infant encounters had a result on later improvement and in adulthood. He came up with five stages of development each of which had a centre of focus from where he believed children had most energy and that their pleasure was also obtained through those very parts. These phases of development also possessed a theme of psychology together with characters typical to adults. Similarly, Erikson too asserts that there are stages in the development of personality. Whereas Freud’s theory had basis on psychosexual stages, Erikson’s explains the influence of social experiences throughout the life a human in eight stages.







Literature Review

Freud named the first stage of his theory as oral stage since he believed that children gain pleasure from eating, sucking and swallowing at this stage. Here, he asserted that dependency is deemed as the psychological theme since infants can barely do a lot for themselves. On the other hand, Erik Erikson named his theory’s first stage of development to be trust versus mistrust. However, both of the two psychologists believed that at is at this stage that children develop trust.

In comparing Freud’s anal stage to that of Erikson’s autonomy versus shame and doubt, the two theories state that learning of independence among children take place at this stage. Toilet training is considered a central focus of the aforementioned independence. Another point to note is that the attitude of parents to the infants at this stage can have a lasting effect on the infants.

While Freud referred to ages three to six as the phallic stage, Erikson called this stage the initiative versus guilt. According to John, L. 1995, Freud affirmed that the major source of pleasure is the genital area. Freud claimed that children at this stage come to realization of the difference between boys and girls. They start having deferent emotional thoughts on both parents. And as for Erikson, this stage covers the years before school where the infants learn new things and try to participate in new roles.

Freud’s theory inspired Erikson’s but Erikson elaborated it in various ways. Moreover, these two theories varied in a number of ways. Erikson put emphasis on the importance of both early and late experiences on an individual’s development and the continued development of personality after puberty while Freud asserted that most personality development in a person’s life took place in their early ages. Freud’s theory consists of five stages which do not go past puberty where as Erikson’s consists of eight stages past puberty even though in both, the first three stages have semblance as discussed above.

Both Freud and Erikson believe that most personality development occur during the early stages of an individual’s life. They both consent to the fact that humans develop unconsciously in and gradually. These psychologists believe that in order to move to the next stage, a solution to a conflict has to e arrived at. These similarity means that the id, ego and super ego are very significant in development.

Freud believed that we are born with the id and that as we grow (second stage) we develop the ego – a fact that Erikson did accent to but valued the ego more. He asserted that the ego was independent from the others. He argued that ego acquires or loses strength after the eight stages have been resolved.

Erikson’s formative hypothesis which portrays influences of social on an individual’s life was significantly more extensive contrasted with Freud’s, which shows improvement solely by considering sexuality. Each stage in Erikson’s theory has been depicted through an emergency, which gives emphasis to the effects of parenting and that of society. (Christopher L. 2014.)

Again, the result of the stages is another significant distinction amongst the two theories of Freud and Erikson. Whereas Erikson believed that the outcome of a stage do not last and can be altered through day-to-day encounters, Freud on the other hand trusted that the results of a stage would affect an individual throughout his/her life.

Contrary to the above two theories by Freud and Erikson, Margaret Mahler’s separation-individuation and attachment theory focuses majorly on mother-child relationship during the first three years after birth. It fills up a void left by the two previous theories. As per Mahler, fruitful finishing of the formative stages in the initial couple of years of life results in separation and individuation. She believed that without connection a newborn child would pass on, and with extremely unreliable connection the infant is at more serious hazard for serious problem. Advancement relies on upon preceded with connection to a responsive and dependable parental figure (as cited in Edward J. et al., 1991)


To sum up, the two theories by Freud and Erikson have a great impact and contribution to developmental psychology. Generally, even though there exist a few similitudes between these theories, factual and significant contrasts are seen too. McLeod, S. A. stated that the stages in Freud’s theory are those that can be physically seen while in Erikson’s theory, social collaboration in a person’s lifespan has been given the major significance.







McLeod, S. A. (2014, Aug 21). Sigmund Freud. Retrieved from

McLeod, S. A. (2014, Aug 21). Erik Erikson. Retrieved from

John, L. (1995, May 6). Freud’s Psychosexual Stage Conception. (Vol. 73). Retrieved from

Christopher L. (2014, August 21). Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development. Retrieved from

Christopher L. (2014, August 21). Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development. Retrieved from

Davies D. (1991). Child Development, A practitioner’s Guide. New York, London: The Guildford Press.

Edward J. Ruskin N. Turrini P. (1991).  Separation/Individuation: Theory and Application (2nd ed.). New York, London: Brunner-Routledge.





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