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Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson Essay

Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson are two of psychology’s developmental forerunners, each one having his own theory behind personality and the elements of advancing through the stages of life. Erikson’s theories came after Freud’s and build on Freud’s original work. Both of these psychologists have some common similarities and some differences as well in life, their careers and how we use their work and theories still. Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg. Austria on May 6, 1856.

When he was four his family moved to Vienna, where he would live and work for most of the remainder of his life. He received his medical degree in 1881 and married the following year. He had six children—the youngest of whom, Anna, was to herself become a distinguished psychoanalyst. After graduation, Freud set up a private practice and began treating various psychological disorders. Considering himself first and foremost a scientist, rather than a doctor, he strived to understand the journey of human knowledge and experience.

Early in his career, Freud was greatly influenced by the work of his Viennese colleague, Josef Breuer, who had discovered that when he encouraged a hysterical patient to talk openly about the earliest events of the symptoms, the symptoms sometimes gradually decreased. Inspired by Breuer, Freud proposed that neuroses had their roots in deeply traumatic experiences that had transpired in the patient’s past. He believed that the original occurrences had been forgotten and hidden from consciousness.

His treatment was to empower his patients to recall the experience and bring it to consciousness, and in doing so, confront it. He believed one could then release it and rid oneself of the neurotic symptoms. Freud and Breuer published their theories and findings in Studies in Hysteria (1895) In January 1933, the Nazis took control of Germany, and Freud’s books were prominent among those they burned and destroyed. Freud quipped: “What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now, they are content with burning my books.

” Freud continued to maintain his optimistic underestimation of the growing Nazi threat and remained determined to stay in Vienna, even following the Anschluss of 13 March 1938 in which Nazi Germany annexed Austria, and the outbursts of violent anti-Semitism that ensued. Ernest Jones, the then president of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA), flew into Vienna from London via Prague on 15 March determined to get Freud to change his mind and seek exile in Britain. This prospect and the shock of the detention and interrogation of Anna Freud by the Gestapo finally convinced Freud it was time to leave Austria.

3 Erik Erikson was born June 15, 1902 in Frankfurt, Germany. His mother and father had separated before his birth, but it was kept a secret from him that he was his mother’s child from an extramarital union. His mother raised Erik by herself before marrying a physician, Dr. Theodor Homberger. The fact that Homberger was not his biological father was kept secret from him for many years. When he finally did learn the truth, he was left with a feeling of confusion about who he really was. This experience helped spark his interest in the formation of identity and was further developed based upon his experiences in school.

Like Freud, Erikson was raised in Jewish religion. At his temple school, children teased him for being Nordic because he was tall, blonde, and blue-eyed. In grammar school, he was excluded because of his Jewish background. These experiences helped fuel his interest in identity formation and continued to influence his work throughout his life. Erikson was a student and teacher of arts, and while teaching at a private school in Vienna, he became acquainted with Anna Freud, the daughter of Sigmund Freud. Erikson underwent psychoanalysis, and after the experience he decide to become an analyst himself.

He was trained in psychoanalysis at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute and also studied the Montessori Method of education, which focused on child development and sexual stages. In 1933, the Nazis came to power in Germany, and like Freud, Erikson and his wife Joan were forced to immigrate, first to Denmark and then to the United States, where he became the first child psychoanalyst in Boston. Psychoanalysis was created by Sigmund Freud (1916-1917). Freud believed that people could be cured by making conscious their unconscious thoughts, thus gaining “insight”.

The goal of psychoanalysis therapy is to let go of repressed emotions and experiences. Psychoanalysis is commonly used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. In his book The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, Freud explained how these unconscious thoughts and impulses are expressed, often through slips of the tongue (known as “Freudian slips”) and dreams. The psychoanalytic theory suggested by Sigmund Freud had a tremendous impact on 20th-century thought, inspiring the mental health field as well as other areas including art, literature and popular culture.

Freud developed a theory that described development in terms of a series of psychosexual stages. According to Freud, struggles that arise during each of these stages can have a lifelong influence on personality and behavior. In Freud’s theory Psychoanalytic theory suggested that personality is generally established by age of five. Early experiences play a large role in personality development and continue to influence behavior later in life. If these psychosexual stages are completed positively, the result is a healthy personality. If certain issues are not resolved at the appropriate stage, fixation can occur.

A fixation is an insistent focus on an earlier psychosexual stage. Until this conflict is resolved, the individual will remain “stuck” in this stage. Oral Stage During the oral stage, the infant’s primary source of interaction occurs through the mouth, so the rooting and sucking reflex is especially important. The mouth is vital for eating, and the infant derives pleasure from oral stimulation through gratifying activities such as tasting and sucking. Because the infant is entirely dependent upon caretakers (who are responsible for feeding the child), the infant also develops a sense of trust and comfort through this oral stimulation.

The primary conflict at this stage is the weaning process–the child must become less dependent upon caretakers. If fixation occurs at this stage, Freud believed the individual would have issues with dependency or aggression. Oral fixation can result in problems with drinking, eating, smoking, or nail biting. Anal Stage The anal stage is directly related to a child’s awareness of bowel control and gaining pleasure through the act of eliminating or retaining feces. Freud’s theory puts the anal stage between 18 months and three years.

It is believed that when a child becomes fixated on receiving pleasure through controlling and eliminating feces, a child can become obsessed with control, perfection, and cleanliness. This is often referred to as anal retentive, while anal expulsive is the opposite. Those who are anal expulsive may be extremely disorganized, live in chaos, and are known for making messes. Phallic Stage Freud believes the phallic stage or the Oedipus or Electra complexes occurs during a child is three to six years of age.

The belief is that male children harbor unconscious, sexual attraction to their mothers, while female children develop a sexual attraction to their father. Freud taught that young boys also deal with feelings of rivalry with their father. These feelings naturally resolve once the child begins to identify with their same sex parent. By identifying with the same sex parent, the child continues with normal, healthy sexual development. If a child becomes fixated during this phase, the result could be sexual deviance or a confused sexual identity. Latency Stage

The latency stage is named so because Freud believed there weren’t many overt forms of sexual gratification displayed. This stage is said to last from the age of six until a child enters puberty. Most children throughout this age form same sex friendships and play in a manner that is non-sexual. Unconscious sexual desires and thoughts remain repressed. Genital Stage Freud believed that after the unconscious, sexual desires are repressed and remain dormant during the latency stage, they are awakened due to puberty. This stage begins at puberty and develops with the physiology changes brought on through hormones.

The prior stages of development result in a focus on the genitals as a source for pleasure and teens develop and explore attractions to the opposite sex. The genital stage is the last stage of the psychosexual development theory. 4 Those inspired and influenced by Freud went on to expand upon Freud’s ideas and develop theories of their own. Erik Erikson’s ideas have become perhaps the best known. Erikson’s eight-stage theory of psychosocial development describes growth and change throughout the lifespan, focusing on social interaction and conflicts that arise during different stages of development.

Psychosocial Stage 1-Trust vs. Mistrust The first stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development occurs between birth and one year of age and is the most fundamental stage in life. Because an infant is utterly dependent, the development of trust is based on the dependability and quality of the child’s caregivers. If a child successfully develops trust, he or she will feel safe and secure in the world. Caregivers who are inconsistent, emotionally unavailable, or rejecting contribute to feelings of mistrust in the children they care for.

Failure to develop trust will result in fear and a belief that the world is inconsistent and unpredictable. Of course, no child is going to develop a sense of 100 percent trust or 100 percent doubt. Erikson believed that successful development was all about striking a balance between the two opposing sides. When this happens, children acquire hope, which Erikson described as an openness to experience tempered by some wariness that danger may be present. Psychosocial Stage 2 – Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

The second stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development takes place during early childhood and is focused on children developing a greater sense of personal control. Like Freud, Erikson believed that toilet training was a vital part of this process. However, Erikson’s reasoning was quite different than that of Freud’s. Erikson believe that learning to control one’s bodily functions leads to a feeling of control and a sense of independence. Other important events include gaining more control over food choices, toy preferences, and clothing selection.

Children who successfully complete this stage feel secure and confident, while those who do not are left with a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt. Erikson believed that achieving a balance between autonomy and shame and doubt would lead to will, which is the belief that children can act with intention, within reason and limits. Psychosocial stage 3 Initiative vs. Guilt During the preschool years, children begin to assert their power and control over the world through directing play and other social interactions.

Children who are successful at this stage feel capable and able to lead others. Those who fail to acquire these skills are left with a sense of guilt, self-doubt, and lack of initiative. When an ideal balance of individual initiative and a willingness to work with others is achieved, the ego quality known as purpose emerges. Psychosocial Stage 4 – Industry vs. Inferiority This stage covers the early school years from approximately age 5 to 11. Through social interactions, children begin to develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments and abilities.

Children who are encouraged and commended by parents and teachers develop a feeling of competence and belief in their skills. Those who receive little or no encouragement from parents, teachers, or peers will doubt their abilities to be successful. Successfully finding a balance at this stage of psychosocial development leads to the strength known as competence or a belief our own abilities to handle the tasks set before us. Psychosocial Stage 5 – Identity vs. Confusion During adolescence, children explore their independence and develop a sense of self.

Those who receive proper encouragement and reinforcement through personal exploration will emerge from this stage with a strong sense of self and a feeling of independence and control. Those who remain unsure of their beliefs and desires will feel insecure and confused about themselves and the future. Completing this stage successfully leads to fidelity, which Erikson described as an ability to live by society’s standards and expectations. Psychosocial Stage 6 – Intimacy vs. Isolation This stage covers the period of early adulthood when people are exploring personal relationships.

Erikson believed it was vital that people develop close, committed relationships with other people. Those who are successful at this step will form relationships that are committed and secure. Remember that each step builds on skills learned in previous steps. Erikson believed that a strong sense of personal identity was important for developing intimate relationships. Studies have demonstrated that those with a poor sense of self tend to have less committed relationships and are more likely to suffer emotional isolation, loneliness, and depression.

Successful resolution of this stage results in the virtue known as love. It is marked by the ability to form lasting, meaningful relationships with other people. Psychosocial Stage 7 – Generativity vs. Stagnation During adulthood, we continue to build our lives, focusing on our career and family. Those who are successful during this phase will feel that they are contributing to the world by being active in their home and community. Those who fail to attain this skill will feel unproductive and uninvolved in the world. Care is the virtue achieved when this stage is handled successfully.

Being proud of your accomplishments, watching your children grow into adults, and developing a sense of unity with your life partner are important accomplishments of this stage. Psychosocial Stage 8 – Integrity vs. Despair This phase occurs during old age and is focused on reflecting back on life. Those who are unsuccessful during this stage will feel that their life has been wasted and will experience many regrets. The individual will be left with feelings of bitterness and despair. Those who feel proud of their accomplishments will feel a sense of integrity.

Successfully completing this phase means looking back with few regrets and a general feeling of satisfaction. These individuals will attain wisdom, even when confronting death. 5 Although there are many similarities between Freud and Erikson’s theory’s, there are many differences. In the first stage both believe that a child develops their sense of trust at this stage of development. Second stage both believe that a sense of independence is learned at this stage of development, and that toilet training is an important focus of this independence. Parental attitudes at this time can also have a lasting effect.

Third stage, Freud believed this stage was where a child identifies with the same-sex parent and develops self-esteem. Erikson felt that this was the stage where a child begins to exert power and control over their environment. That is where you will start to see more differences in the two theories. Fourth stage, occurs at ages seven through 11. Freud believes that this is an intermediary stage of development where the child forms interactions with their environment. Erikson refers to it as industry versus inferiority. He believes that children begin to demonstrate their ability to succeed.

Fifth stage, according to Freud, this is the final stage, and it continues throughout a person’s life. He calls it the genital stage. Freud believes that a person learns to channel their biological instincts into socially-acceptable displays of love and career goals. Erikson called this stage identity versus role confusion. He believed it was a period where the focus of development shifts to social bonding in order to establish meaning in one’s life and assert individuality. Erikson continues with three more stages which occur throughout adulthood.


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