What Is the Difference Between Freud and Erikson?

The main difference between Freud and Erikson is their unique visions of what drives an individual’s development. While Freud’s theory is centered around basic needs and biological forces, Erikson emphasizes the importance of social and environmental factors.

Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson are two of the pioneers of modern psychology and each of them theorized about the development of personality. While their theories have several factors in common, such as separating a person’s life in stages, there are a couple of differences in their opinions as well. Freud’s theory is a psychosexual one, as he believed a person is solely motivated by his or her biological needs. Freud believed that an individual can develop a fixation if gratification is not offered at every stage. While Erikson’s theories drew upon Freud’s research, he believed that cultural and social elements play a more important part in personality development. Freud’s five stages only went to the age of 18, whereas Erikson believed that personality develops throughout the entire life of an individual and for this reason his eight stages go up to 50 years and older. Another difference between the two is that Erikson, unlike Freud, did not believe in the development of fixations at any stage.