Sigmund Freud’s Place Among Outstanding Psychological Researchers

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Developmental Theorist

In life we have people that are like us, and some that are completely different than us. The five theorists; Freud, Erickson, Piaget, Kohlberg and Abraham Maslow all have different views on the human; however, have some similarities in certain aspects. Each theorist has a stage in life and truthfully we could all have different views on our stages based upon our background and experience, even one can be a theorist if he or she wanted to. I will explain the theorist’s stages in life and what that phase means to them. Lets start with our well-known Sigmund Freud.

Sigmund Freud

Freud made some good points to understanding the personality development. He had three components that he believed were pertained to the mind which where the id, the ego and the superego. The Id referred to the body’s primitive urges, the satisfaction of pleasure or libido (Polan & Taylor, D. 2017). The ego was the most realistic part of the mind. The superego is a more in-depth of the ego. It judges, controls and judges (Polan & Taylor, D. 2017). Freud developed five stages of psychosexual developments; which were the oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. The oral stage is eating, breast feeding and weaning(Polan & Taylor, D. 2017). If the parents are not careful, we may take pleasure in refusing food or turning to food to calm one down. The next is the anal phase, which is essentially what it, sounds like; it is toilet training. When the parents teach us what to do and where to go, we also learn to test the limits of our parents or authority. If authority is not compassionate enough, we may choose to act out of disobedience.

The next phase of Freud’s stage is the phallic stage. The phallic stage stops around 6 years old. Freud insists that children have sexual feelings; however, it is directed to the mother or the adult taking care of them because they are around them more. The next is the latency phase where the energy shifts to physical and intellectual actives such as education and learning to please ones self and how we must deal with feelings of modesty and shame. The last stage is the genital stage, which starts through puberty to adulthood where Freud believed that we must create a healthy sexual relationship, or displaces the energy into a creative and socially accepting and rewarding behavior. Once this stage starts, they tend to become more distant with parents but still have love for them. These are the stages of Sigmund Freud. The next theorist to speak on is Erik Erickson.

Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson had 8 stages of life and they started with Trust versus mistrust. Trust versus mistrust is when we are infants and depend on another to take care of us until we are able to do it our self. Once we develop trust, we are able to trust others in the future. The next stage is autonomy versus shame and doubt. In this stage we ask ourselves if it is okay to be who we are and do what we want to do, and if not that is when doubt comes into play. Initiative versus guilt; at this stage we take initiative and try out new things such as playing with toys, and we ask if it okay to be doing what we are doing. If is okay to be doing what we are doing, then we continue, if not then that is when doubt comes to our mind.

The fourth stage is industry versus inferiority; In this stage we learn that we can do things ourselves and that we are different than others. If we start to receive praise and recognition, then we start becoming more industrious, and if not, we become more inferior if we get too much negative feedback. The next stage is identity versus role confusion, which starts in adolescence; we learn that we have different social roles such as, friends, children and citizens. In this stage we go into an identity crisis, if the parent allows the child to go out and do their own thing, they are able to find their identity. If we are forced to follow in our parent’s footsteps, we may be subject to role confusion.

The sixth stage is intimacy versus isolation, we start to wonder who we are and if we are able to love, if we do find out who we are and fall in love, then we become happy and intimate; however, if we cannot find our love or soul mate, then we become isolated. The next stage is generativity versus stagnation, this stage starts around 40 and we become creative and start to contribute to society and we start to think if we are able to lead the next generation in this world, if we are then we are happy; however, if we don’t resolve conflicts, we become stagnant. Stage eight is ego integrity versus despair. We start to look at our life and think of all that we have done , if we think we have done well then we are proud of ourselves and feel complete, if not then we become regretful and begin to despair. This was Erick Erickson’s theory. The next theorist is Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget believed that our development was in 4 different parts; the first part starts at 0-2 years called the sensorimotor stage. Sensorimotor meaning the eyes, smell, touch and hearing are in effect and the motor part comes because they learn to move their bodies and walk around and use our sensory parts. In this stage, the child is object permanent, meaning if an infant sees a cookie and the mother hides it behind their back—to the baby, that cookie disappeared and the infant focuses on something new. The next stage starts at around age 2-7 years called the preoperational stage. In this phase, this is when children start to engage and pretend play and begin to use symbols to make a meaning.

They are also very egocentric meaning if they hide, they believe they cannot be seen or heard. The next stage starts at age 7-11 years old called the concrete operational stage. In this phase, this is where children understand and learn conservation; meaning, if you fill water into a bowl equally into two same size bowls, they will understand that the bowls has the same amount of water; however, if you put the same amount of water into a taller bowl and the small bowl, the child will say the taller bowl has the most. The last stage is considered at the age of 12 or greater called the formal operational stage. In this phase the child learns about abstract, actions and consequences of said action. Piaget also believed that moral reasoning began to take place. The next theorist to speak on will be Lawrence Kohlberg.

Lawrence Kohlberg

Kohlberg developed the moral theory of development. His theory was based on cognitive development; he looked at the person at how they develop their morals other than the emotional. He looked at children for this developmental theory. Out of this research, Kohlberg developed 3 distinct levels of moral reasoning. The first stage is the preconvention stage. In this stage, he believed that the children understood right from wrong and understood the consequences should they make a wrong decision. Also in this stage, he learned children develop individualism and exchange meaning children recognize that there is not just one right view from an individual. once they develop these two morals of that stage, he found there is another stage called the conventional stage where the third phase takes place called the interpersonal concordance phase and in this stage the child does good in order to be seen as good by other people.

Law and order is the fourth phase of the second stage; meaning the child becomes aware of the wider rules of society. Once we pass the conventional stage, we reach the post conventional stage, which Kohlberg believes some people do not reach in life, and in this stage we have social contract and universal ethical principle. Social contract meaning the individual becomes aware that the laws exist but those that reach this level understands that some laws may need to be broken in some cases. In the universal ethical principle phase, the people make their own set of law and protect it and lives by it. The last theorist is what I know the best, which is Abraham Maslow.

Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow wanted to assess if we had a different behaviors that we had the option to choose to engage in and what made us think in one behavior over the other. Maslow began to think that our behavior was driven by what our needs were in five stages. The first stage is the physiological needs stage and in this stage he believed that this was what we needed to sustain life; such as food, water, and shelter. The next stage is security and safety needs. In this stage, he believed that our behavior is driven by security; for example, if someone does not pass nursing school, their behavior will be driven on trying to fulfill and read the text books to pass all the classes to become a nurse, and if not, their security needs are not meant and may go out and start to look for another program.

The next stage is social needs, in social needs Maslow believed that we had a need of belonging to someone such as a loved one or some particular group. The next stage is the esteem stage. In this stage Maslow believed that this certain stage was driven by desire to feel good an complete about ourselves and its satisfied by prestige; such as a good job or house size. The last stage is the need for self-actualization meaning that we are reaching our full potential of our self and this is different varied upon the person. My self-actualization need would be to become a nurse; someone else may want to be an architect or a contractor. These are the stages of Abraham Maslow.


To finish, as we can see there are many views that these theorist had and still all are used every day and some we can even see in ourselves. Everyone on earth has developed or is going to develop at least one of these theorists’ stages in life and they each will be unique in a different view. If a person decided to think back to when they were a kid, he/she would look at one of these theorists’ and understand why that theorist researched and came up with that theory, because the person’s child has developed it or they have personally. Understand that everyone is different, but also everyone is equal according to all of these stages.

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Sigmund Freud’s Place Among Outstanding Psychological Researchers. (2022, Oct 05). Retrieved April 23, 2024 , from

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