Description Of Personality Development Theories

1542 words (6 pages) Essay in Psychology

27/04/17 Psychology Reference this

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Since older times to this present day and age, there have been many different theories and approaches on the phases of growth. Of these, the most sensible and recognized are Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development and Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development. Both are great theorists that have very similar yet different ways of approaching social and physical development in the common human being.

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The Concept of Psychosexual Development, as envisioned by Sigmund Freud is a central element in the theory of psychology. Freud observed that during the expected stages of early childhood development, the child’s behaviour is oriented towards certain parts of his or her body, e.g. the mouth during breast-feeding, the anus during toilet-training. He proposed that childhood development was fuelled by their sexual being and each stage is characterized by the erogenous zone. If a child experiences sexual frustration in any psychosexual stage adult neurosis occurs. Given the predictable timeline of childhood behaviour, he proposed “libido development” as a typical and normal sexual change in children, wherein the child progresses through five psychosexual stages: Oral – This takes place from birth to about one year. During this stage the mouth is the child’s erogenous area. Everything a child touches and puts in his mouth Freud believes gives the child pleasure e.g. sucking his thumb gives a child satisfaction.

Anal – This takes place between the ages of two to three years of age. The erogenous zone shifts location to the anal region. Here the child experiences sexual gratification during bowel movements and when they withhold bowel movements. Phallic – Occurs when the child is about three years old. At this age the genital organs are the erogenous zones. This is known as the Oedipal Stage of psychosexual development. The child takes interest in their parent of the other sex. Once they realize they cannot be with their mother or father, they classify with the parent of the same sex. Latency – In this stage there is a lack of change or absence of erogenous regions. The child understands they cannot be with a parent sexually and moves their attention to same-sexed relationships e.g. boy will shift their sexual urges or drives to something acceptable, such as sports .Genital – The erogenous zone returns in a very dominant way in the genital organs. This stage takes place from puberty to adulthood. This period is marked by true sexual desire and sexual relationships. In the development of his theories, Freud’s central concern was with sexual desire, instincts and needs that result in the foundation of an adult personality.

Psychosocial Development as articulated by Erik Erickson describes eight developmental stages through which a healthy developing human should pass from infancy to late adulthood. Successful completion of earlier stages is said to build progress in other phases. However, unsuccessful mastery of the stages may appear as problems in the future but is not required to advance. These stages are as follows: 0-2 Trust vs. Mistrust – The child develops an outlook on life and whether the world can be trusted or not. He develops trust if parents give him something to rely on. 2-4 Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt – The child becomes independent and realizes he can say yes or no. This stage determines whether or not a child develops a sense of self- certainty. 4-5 Initiative vs. Guilt – This stage develops the child’s sense of enterprise. The child develops initiative when trying out new things and is not scared of failing. 5-12 Industry vs. Inferiority – The child learns skills of the culture and must deal with feelings of lowliness.

13-19 Identity vs. Role Confusion – During this stage adolescent must develop a sense of self and who they are. They develop an identity. 20-24 Intimacy vs. Isolation – This stage takes place during young adulthood. The person seeks commitments from others. If he is unsuccessful he may take on seclusion. Erikson believes this phase is important in learning love.

25-64 Generatively vs. Stagnation – This is the seventh stage during adulthood, where the adult is concerned with guiding the next generation. This stage gives the adult a sense of caring.

64- Death Ego Integrity vs. Despair – At this time the person may achieve a sense of acceptance of their own life, which in turn allows for the acceptance for death. When on passes through this last stage it is believed, that person has achieved wisdom.

Section 2: Comparisons of Personal Development

Freud and Erikson’s theories are similar in several different ways. Freud thought that a person was solely motivated by the urge to satisfy biological needs whereas Erikson’s theory expands on the more social or cultural elements that can impact personality development. Both of these theories are very similar regardless of the different approach taken by the two theorists, the most obvious is the physical progress of the common human being in stages. Both stress and show the emotional dynamics of physical development. Also they both have the same dividing age groups for growth. Evidently both theorists believed that learning the rules of society are different than learning to walk or swim. In Freud’s Oral stage a child’s primary source of pleasure is through the mouth via sucking, eating and tasting. Whereas in Erikson’s Trust vs. Mistrust children learn to either rely or distrust their caregivers. The Anal stage children gain a sense of mastery and competence by controlling bowel movements. In Erikson’s Autonomy vs. Doubt children develops self-sufficiency by controlling activities such as eating, toilet training and talking. Freud’s Phallic stage proposed that the libido’s energy is focused on the genitals. Children begin to identify with their same sex parent. Erikson’s Initiative vs. Guilt children begin to take more control over their environment. The Latency period the libido’s energy is suppressed and children are focused on other activities such as school, friends and hobbies. Industry vs. Inferiority children develops a sense of competence by mastering new skills. In the Genital stage the child begins to explore romantic relationships. Erikson suggested in Identity vs. Role confusion that child develops a personal identity and sense of self. Adulthood: According to Freud, the genital stage lasts throughout adulthood. He believed the goal is to develop a balance between all areas of life. And according to Erikson Intimacy vs. Isolation young adults seek out romantic love and companionship. Also in Generativity vs. Stagnation middle aged adults nurture others and contribute to society. Last of Erickson’s theory is Integrity vs. Despair where older adults reflect on their lives, looking back with a sense of fulfilment or bitterness. These stages of development are separated into phases of a person’s life. A certain quality or characteristic is acquired according to age and how well a person will adapt and thrive as an adult

Section 3: Application of Personal Development

If we realized the many different parts of our personality we should be better able to discover what we are really like inside. Freud and Erikson’s personality theories provide us with a road map of parts of our personality which produce the compound and conflicting feelings, thoughts and behaviours we experience and help us to better understand ourselves as well as others. The purpose of these personality theories is to help us to explore our psyche and gain awareness of the many views and ego’s struggling inside of us. These personality theories describe the stages we go through as our character develops. Understanding our own personality development should greatly improve our insight into our current drives, values and views. With greater awareness we can be more in control or, at least, more accepting of ourselves and others. Applying this knowledge to everyday life should help us understand the significance of our history and the possibilities of growth in the future. Freud and Erikson’s theories on personality development helps us to recognise how similar and how different we may be from one another.


Both theories have a concrete capability of being a definite assumption to personal development in different ways. The development of the ego is most definitely psychological so both Freud and Erickson’s theories about primarily physical development were factual. Even though these concepts were approached from different routes they ended at the same destination. After reviewing these two theories I gained a much greater insight into how children learn, develop and grow through steps. By understanding this aging process I am better prepared to face issues associated with growing older such as behaviour, thinking, learning and feeling. Studying development has also given me a better appreciation of myself and my ability to interact with kids. I feel more comfortable talking, playing and working with them at present and in the future. I realize that development is an important and an ongoing process throughout life that allows each individual to understand what’s normal and what’s not. While every child is a bit different I feel more competent in spotting possible signs of emotional struggles or physical development and capable in helping each child reach their maximum potential

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