Psychoanalytic Theory:

Sigmund Freud:
Freud felt that unconscious drives and psychic energy played an important role in explaining human behavior. This psychic energy serves as a major motivation of human behavior from this perspective. Much of that energy is expressed in the form of sexual behavior and gratification.

Freud also placed a major emphasis on the importance of early childhood experiences in shaping adult behavior. It was proposed that the resolution of early childhood stages (challenges or tasks of childhood) would lead to a healthy life in adulthood. Consequently, unresolved stages could lead to unhealthy development and what was called fixation. Through the process of development, dimensions of human personality begin to emerge, known as the Id, Ego, and Superego. Humans use what Freud called "defense mechanisms" to maintain balance within the developing personality.

Psycho-sexual stages

Childhood stage Psychosexual stage
Infancy (birth-2 yrs) Oral
Toddlerhood (2 - 3 yrs) Anal
Preschool age (3 - 6 yrs) Phallic
School age (6 - 12 yrs) Latency
Adolescence (12 - adult) Genital
Defense Mechanisms


Erik Erikson
Although Erikson was instructed in Psychoanalytic theory by Freud, he felt that social forces and early relationships played a more important role in shaping adult behavior than the sexual energies discussed by Freud. Erikson felt that there were developmental crisis that need to be resolved throughout the life cycle, not just in childhood. Resolution of a stage crisis would prepare the child to move on to the next stage of development with the powers needed for healthy development. Each stage also has an opposing polarity which represents the unresolved (unhealthy) track in the developmental process.

Psychosocial stages...