Sigmund Freud is considered the father of Psychology owing to his immense contribution in the study of Psychology. Freud articulated the Psychosexual Theory of personality Development, which has gained much recognition worldwide by other psychologist. Freud argues that children are born with sexual energy that gets satisfied in different parts of the body as they grow. On the other hand, Erik Erikson, a German Psychologist proposed eight stages through which all individuals go through, and he called the stages Psychosocial Stages of Development, stages that he categorically termed ‘conflicts’. Resolution of one stage brings the foundation of negotiating the challenges of the next stage. Erikson argued that there were significant social interactions that certainly played key roles in causing these conflicts and that the conflicts had to be solved well in order for someone to move smoothly to the next stage of development. He also appreciated the fact that biological unfolding also had a part to play in an individual’s development process.
The first stage of Erikson’s psychosocial stages of development is Trust versus Mistrust (Pressley & McCormick, 2007). This occurs between birth and 1 year and majorly revolves around whether or not infants are able to rely on other people who respond to their needs (Pressley & McCormick, 2007). Erikson argues that, during infancy, children rely on their parents or caregivers to take care of their diverse needs. In the event that the needs are consistently satisfied, the infants develop a sense of trust, not only to their parent and caregivers, but also to themselves. The Oral Stage of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory corresponds to this stage of Erikson eight stages (Parrish, 2009). However, Freud asserted that, during this period (birth- 1 year), a child’s sexuality is centered on the oral cavity. The child obtains pleasure through sucking or biting. However, frustration or over stimulation leads fixation reflected in ones personality.
The second stage according to Erikson is Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt (1 to 3 years) (Pressley & McCormick, 2007). At this stage, the child tries to express independence accompanied with a lot of climbing and exploration. The children, by all means, try to assert their own will by doing things for themselves. Otherwise, shame and doubt develops, especially if the child is constantly scorned and punished. The child in this case becomes dependent and experiences problems with activities such as toileting and walking. The overarching idea here is that the child loses the sense of autonomy. Corresponding to this stage of development is Freud’s Anal Stage (Parrish, 2009). According to Freud, the child’s sexuality at this stage is centered in the anus, hence ‘Anal Stage’. The child derives pleasure from elimination or retention of waste products. The emphasis of parents is on toileting, which should be done without harshness. If toileting is done smoothly, the child develops self-confidence and later in life proves to be extraordinarily creative (Parrish, 2009). Conversely, if parents are too strict, the child learns to retain feces and may later in life develop a retentive character, aggressiveness and become excessively stubborn.
Between ages 3 and 6 years, the child is in Erikson third stage of development, which he called Initiative versus Guilt (Pressley & McCormick, 2007). During this period, a time called the play-age, there is a lot of experimentation and piloting of new roles by the child. The child gets involved in a lot of plays with the peers. However, if the child does not receive enough encouragement and most importantly recognition from peers, the child might begin to feel guilty with anything that he or she does (Pressley & McCormick, 2007). During this age bracket, Freud identified the Phallic Stage, which is perhaps the most intriguing stage of his four development stages. According to Freud, the child’s sexual energy at this stage is attached to the genitals. Oedipus and Electra complexes also unfold at this stage (Parrish, 2009). In Oedipus complex, male children develop sexual feelings for their mothers and consider their fathers as competitors (Parrish, 2009). Electra complex, on the other hand, is experienced with their female counterparts who develop sexual feelings for their fathers. Identification is yet another striking occurrence at this stage.
After the fourth stage, the fifth stage, Industry versus Inferiority sets in between the ages 6 and 12 years. Erikson notes that this is the period when children begin to learn the skills expected of them by the society. Failure to learn these skills renders the child inferior. The child develops a sense of industry if he receives praises form the family and other community members. In contrast, a child who does not receive praises will lack the initiative to tackle new tasks and will end up feeling awful inferior, which might be carried to adulthood. Analogous to this stage is Freud’s Latency stage . Remarkably, the child sexuality is dormant at this stage, and the child spends much time playing with same-sex peers (Parrish, 2009).
The fifth stage according to Erikson is a stage that has undoubtedly attracted a lot of research due to it nature and the changes that children undergo during the same period. This is the Identity versus Role Confusion stage, which is experienced between ages 12 and 20 (adolescence period). The adolescents undergo identity crisis with a major concern of developing a sense of self. Freud’s Genital Stage corresponds to this stage, a stage where the adolescents’ heterosexual behavior develops. This last stage of Freud’s Psychosexual stages is stipulates the boys and girls differentiate themselves into men and women. This is the last stage of Freud’s stages (Parrish, 2009).
Intimacy versus Isolation comes sixth according Erikson (Pressley & McCormick, 2007). The ages between 20 and 30 are marked with the young adult’s endeavor to seek companion of a person of the opposite sex. The evidence that this crisis has been resolved successfully is viewed in terms of the level of success of one marriage. Individuals who did no resolve the identity crisis well are worst hit by the setbacks that result from the inability to form an intimate relationship with others.
Closely following the sixth stage is the Generativity versus Stagnation stage in which a person is preoccupied with finding a meaningful career. The middle adults (between ages 30 and 65) must feel that they doing something that will outlive them, either as parents or workers. Otherwise, they feel stagnated and self-centered.
The last stage is called Integrity versus Despair (65 years and over). Individuals are to supposed to perceive their lives as meaningful in order to face death with confidence. Considering that it is probably too late to change an individual’s past life, individuals doubting their success in life will feel despair since they consider their live to be regrettable. None of these old adults will have the confidence of facing death.
From Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory, it is noteworthy that most undergraduate students are in the bracket of intimacy versus Isolation. Apart from the fact that I fall in the 20 to 30 years age group, the personal experiences with regards to selecting a companion and bonding with fellow students also suggest that I am indubitably trying to resolve the Intimacy versus Isolation crisis. I am majorly gripped by emotional fear, and each time I try be acquainted to a person, especially of the person is of the opposite sex, the fear gets hold of me. The other notable experience is the anxiety of getting started on an occupation together with starting and managing a family. All these experiences suggest that I am in Erikson’s sixth stage of development.
Parrish, M. (2009). Social Work Perspectives on Human Behavior. Berkshire: McGraw-Hill International
Pressley, M., & McCormick, C. (2007). Child and Adolescent Development for Educators. New York, NY: Guilford Press.