Erik Erikson and Sigmund Freud are great psychologists who came up with different theories that seek to explain the formation and development of personality. Erik Erikson came up with psychosocial theories, which explains that personality development depends upon epigenetic elements and the influence of culture in a given society. He further explains that there are eight stages of personality and each stage entails the resolution of a psychosocial crisis that is important in personality development. Sigmund Freud on the other hand came up with the psychosocial theory, which postulates that personality development has intricate links with sexual development. He argues that sexuality forms an integral part of childhood development because sex mediates between the mind and the body. In his five stages of personality development, he asserts that sexual instincts are the driving forces in personality development. Erik Erikson is a proponent of Freud’s psychosexual development theory supporting Freudian elements of psyche and the concepts of Oedipal and Electra complexes as an explanation to sexuality. This essay explores my personality development stage and relates it with psychosocial and psychosexual theories.
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Psychosocial and Psychosexual Stage
According to the Erik Erickson chart showing the eight stages of personality, I should be at the seventh stage (30-65 years) given my age. I am experiencing challenges that compel me to seek the meaning of career, family, and community. The characteristics that I experience fit in the seventh stage where the psychosocial crisis is between generativity versus stagnation. “Generativity is an extension of love into the future; it is a concern for the next generation and all future generations” (Boeree, 2006, p. 12). Generativity is a compulsion that seeks to care for others contrary to stagnation. The tendency to stagnation means that a person is a selfish and unproductive member of society. The skewed development towards generativity results in a maladaptive tendency of overextension, while skewed development towards stagnation results in a malignant tendency of rejectivity. At this stage, the ego struggles to have the proper resolution of the psychosocial crisis of generativity versus stagnation to yield a psychosocial virtue of care. The meaning of life comes from participation and caring for others.
The last stage of Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual stages depicts the behavior of adults in society. This stage occurs at puberty and it signifies sexual maturity as well as personality. At this phase, there is a shift of interests from selfish needs to the consideration of others. Ridgway argues that “the shift in the needs is due to the maturity of the ego that allows proper coordination of the conflicts in the psyche making the child transition well from childhood into adulthood” (2007, p.9). The cumulative resolution of the conflicts by the ego at all preceding stages determines the personality in adulthood. Proper resolution of psyche conflicts is evident by adulthood experiences such as the responsibility to society, having good relationships, and stable marriages.
My current experiences fit into Freudian and Erikson theories. I desire to seek meaning in my career, family, and community through productive work. These challenges of life fit into the seventh stage of the psychosocial theory of Erikson. This stage is a middle life crisis where an individual tries to seek the meaning of life. Boeree argues that “…what we call the meaning of life is a matter of how we participate and what we contribute” (2006, p.13). Therefore, finding meaning in my career, family, and community is thinking about my contribution and participation to elevate their status. Also, the psychological virtue acquired at this stage is care, which explains why I am very concerned about the family and the community by working productively.
According to the psychosexual theory by Sigmund Freud, the resolution of the psychosexual conflicts by the ego manifests themselves in adulthood. “The genital phase marks the maturity of both the ego and genitals, which have a continuous influence on the personality through into adulthood where responsibilities emerge such as marriage and work…” (Ridgway, 2007, p. 10). In my case, I also fit into the psychosexual theory of Sigmund Freud because of my interests in the family, career, and community. Adult people with mature psyche display their love for the family and the community by working very hard to fulfill their needs. Therefore, the psychosocial theory by Erik Erikson and psychosexual theory by Sigmund Freud underlines my personality.
Erik Erikson and Sigmund Freud’s personality development theories have exhaustively characterized human development throughout the lifespan. Psychosocial theory by Erik Erikson attributes personality development to the epigenetic factors and the influence of society. The psychosocial crisis derived from the society coupled with the epigenetic factors directs personality development throughout life. The psychosexual theory by Sigmund Freud postulates that sexual drives within individuals are responsible for personality development for they mediate and control the relationship of the psyche and the body. Although five stages are showing that personality development occurs up to puberty, the cumulative resolutions of the ego have lifelong implications on an individual. These theories, psychosocial and psychosexual, have empirical significance and are very relevant in the field of psychology.
Boeree, G. (2006). Erik Erikson: Personality Theories. Psychology Department Shippensburg University, 1-17.
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Ridgway, J. (2007). Sigmund Freud. Psychological Theory and Practice, 1-15.