Research Papers

Research Paper on Human Development Theories

The importance of the science of psychology grows with every day. Each respected school of psychology presents the theory of development. Psychologists present different theories aiming to explain human behavior, factors that form and influence it. There is no agreement on this point of view and new theories appear with the development of the science. In my paper I would like to compare three different theories of development of three prominent psychologists – Freud, Erikson and Jung. Human development is one of the most popular areas of psychology. Most of the psychologists try to distinguish the theories human beings go through in the process of their growth. Freud, Erikson and Jung developed different development theories despite they all belong to Freudian school. Freud is mostly remembered for his psychoanalytic theory centered on the important role of instincts. Erikson developed Eight stages of life theory while Jung is famous for the theory of adulthood. Different scientists center on different aspects of human life. Freud centers on the dominant role of sex. Jung believes that notable development occurs on the stage of adolescence and centers on the study of this period of human life.

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Erikson stresses on the study of self and social orientation. Each theory has rational points and can be useful for the science for psychology. From the other hand it’s hard to define one theory, which would be totally correct and would respond to all requirements. The questions which become extreme important when we talk about the developmental theories are: continuous or discontinuous character of development; specific tasks common for everybody that should be accomplished during the different stages; the importance on the environmental influence on the development of the personality. In my paper I will try to focus on these important questions trying to compare developmental theories presented by three different psychologists.

Jung, Freud and Erikson – so different and so alike…
As we talk about the development of the personality, it’s necessary to find factors they considered to have most important influence on its forming. Both, Freud (1933) and Jung (1939) saw hereditary as the main source of personality structure. Erikson (1950) didn’t share this opinion as he saw social environment as its main source.

At the same time all of them believed that personality choices are mostly determined by inborn factors or environmental in contrast to theories, which believe free will to be the essence of any choice.

Erikson and Jung share same opinion on the importance of purposes and goals on the forming of personality. They consider these goals and purposes to be important factors, which have great influence on this process. Freud holds another opinion as he considers goals and purposes less influential in comparison to unconscious drives, which direct our behavior.

It’s hard to overestimate the influence of Sigmund Freud on the western psychology. The founder of psychoanalyses, he had great influence not only on the science of psychology, but also on the whole world culture. He turned attention of psychology to unconscious part of our mind and stressed on the importance of childhood stage for all further human life.

I would like to study the role of religion in the development of personality as it appears in the theories of Freud, Erikson and Jung. There are many things, which unite and separate these psychologists. Freud stressed on the important role of childhood memories and their big influence on all further life of the human. Freud stated that religious beliefs are formed in the early childhood. He considered that religious beliefs originate from child’s belief about father as about supreme power in his life (Freud, 1939). As one of the proofs he gave the fact that in many religions God is called and treated as a Heavenly Father. Freud called religion deceitful trick of our mind and believed that its function was creating illusion and hopes. Psychoanalytic interpretation of religion appeared on the Freudian influence but it looses its popularity nowadays.

Jung spent little time researching the problem of religion but still we can find some of his vies concerning this subject. First of all he spent much time looking for the common ground of Christianity and eastern religions. Jung, who was Freud’s pupil in the beginning of his work on the field of psychology had another view of the influence of the church on the development of human personality. Jung is famous for his theory of archetypes. According to him, archetypes belong to the collective part of unconscious. God appears as archetype in Jungian theory. As a part of collective unconscious, this archetype doesn’t belong to any separate individual and can be common for big groups of people, who share same archetypes.

We find no special studies of the religious question in Erikson’s works either but we can get an idea about his views from his biographies of Gandhi and Luther. In this works we can note Erikson’s positive attitude towards religion. By his mind religious has an important influence on the development of personality. He estimated this attitude as positive. In his eight stages developmental theory he regarded religion as a way to promote cultural and social norms on each of eight stages. He also stated that religious rituals had positive influence on the personality development and facilitated this process on different stages.

The focus on the unconscious first introduced by Freud had a great influence on the development of psychology and psychoanalyses. It can be found plenty of different opinions concerning this subject expressed by different psychologists but it’s hard to find anybody, who would be indifferent when talking about unconscious. I would like to compare the view on unconscious processes and to estimate the importance of these processes for the personality development as expressed by each of the psychiatrists I describe. Freud and Jung, as his successor were sure that unconscious motivates human behavior to great extend. Erikson didn’t share their opinion and made consciousness responsible for human drives and motives.

Like mentioned before the discovery of unconscious was made by Freud and became the essence of his developmental theory. He stated that our unconscious process had been directed by different from conscious laws. He didn’t believe that usual laws of logic and rational thinking could be applied to describe the movements of unconscious. According to Freud, unconscious moves had a great if not dominant influence on our personality and created conflict with social norms and authority figures. Discovering this unconscious moves Freud made the center of his treatment system called psychoanalyses.

Jung adopted Freudian study of conscious and unconscious but expanded and slightly changed it. He was interested in the way conscious and unconscious interacted, controlled and complemented each other. He expanded the knowledge about unconscious and divided it into two kinds: personal and collective. His personal or shadow unconscious is very much alike to unconscious as it’s described by Freud. It contains things we don’t want to remember and try to displace from our conscious. The collective conscious study became innovation developed by Jung. He described it as a part of unconscious common for all people, who have some common heritage. Archetypal images belong to this part of unconscious.

Despite Erikson belongs to Freudian ego psychologist school he centers on the social and cultural influence on the development of personality and talks very little about unconscious processes. He doesn’t take instincts and unconscious into serious consideration in his developmental theory. This is one of the reasons his belonging to Freudian school is doubted by some specialists.

Erikson’s view on the importance of the past on the personality and current life situation also differs from those of Freud and Jung. Erikson doesn’t bring to the past as much attention as Freud and Jung do.

Freud made conflicts of the unconscious and their influence on human life the central point of his theory. All his methods of treatment called psychoanalyses were based on recognizing these conflicts by the patients thus getting read of psychological tension and separation. Freud believed that all main unconscious conflicts are formed in the childhood and adult sexuality was a product of process of formation of infantile sexuality.

Jung followed and expanded Freud’s teaching about unconscious bud there were points Jung didn’t agree. For example, he considered that Freud centered too much of sexual drives and passed over the important role of creative instincts and impulses, which had very important meaning in forming our motives. Jung expanded Freudian teaching about unconscious.
Jung established the school of psychoanalyses, which he preferred to call analytical psychoanalyses. Both, Freud and Jung believed that resolving the problems of the patients consisted of brining unconscious motives into conscious, recognizing them and thus getting rid of the inner conflicts. Jung believed in unprejudiced influence of psychoanalytic in contrast to Freud who tried to direct his patients during the sessions of psychotherapy. “If the doctor wants to guide another, or even accompany him a step of the way, he must feel with that person’s psyche. He never feels it when he passes judgment. Whether he puts his judgments into words, or keeps them to himself, makes not the slightest difference. To take the opposite position, and to agree with the patient offhand, is also of no use, but estranges him as much as condemnation. Feeling comes only through unprejudiced objectivity. This sounds almost like a scientific precept, and it could be confused with a purely intellectual, abstract attitude of mind. But what I mean is something quite different. It is a human quality — a kind of deep respect for the facts, for the man who suffers from them, and for the riddle of such a man’s life” (Jung, p. 338).
Erikson didn’t share Freudian and Jungian interest in unconscious. He was rather centered in external factors which influence the development of personality.

Views of these three specialists differed fundamentally in their attitude to reality.
Jung (1969) believed that reality depended on what we perceived and consisted of psychic images. He stated that “Far from being a material world, this is a psychic world, which allows us to make only indirect and hypothetical inferences about the real nature of matter” (Jung, 1969, p. 384). Freud and Erikson shared more materialistic vies on this subject. Freud believed in empirical knowledge of real world and in existence of “real external world we call ‘truth’” ( Freud, 1933, p. 170).

Each of the psychologists tried to form his/her own theory of personality development and define stage personality went through.

Freud believed that all dominant characteristics of human personality were formed in the childhood. He also believed that they were formed under the influence of infantile sexuality. He distinguished several psychosexual stages of development, which covered all life from infancy to adulthood.

Freud believed that satisfaction of biological needs was the dominant factor influencing on the each stage. Satisfying biological needs he defined as the only mean to discharge tension. He called stages by the name of the organs used to discharge tension. Freud made this division on stages starting from the birth and up to adulthood and they were called: oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital accordingly. Not getting satisfaction on any stage individual doesn’t pass this stage and obtain certain psychological mode peculiar to this stage.

Freud believed that development continued only up to adulthood and all further life was compensation of stages not passed in the childhood.

Erikson extended Freudian teaching about the stages of development. Erikson’s stages covered all human life. Being socially directed, he was centered on the functions of ego as main mechanism aiming to develop healthy mechanisms of dealing with the surrounding (Stroufe & Cooper, 1988). Though Erikson based his stages of development of Freudian psychosexual theory, he made some changes in basic features of the theory. He didn’t believe sexuality and instincts to be the only factors, which influenced the development of personality. Erikson put an emphasis on social and cultural factors and their influence on the development of an individual. He believed that each of eight developmental stages contained task of psychosocial nature for an individual to resolve. Erikson called the stages according to qualities, which should have been developed by the personality during passing through them. These stages are: hope or trust, will, purpose, competence, fidelity, love, care and wisdom accordingly. Though Erikson called tasks “crises”, which needed to be overcome he didn’t believe as Freud that not passing any stage made individual stuck in it (Stroufe & Cooper, 1988). He believed that problematic issued could have been worked on any stage in the context of current tasks.

Jung didn’t focus all his attention on the development of childhood as he believed the development of the personality was a continuous process accomplished during the whole life of an individual. Carl Jung became the first psychoanalytic who turned his attention to the development of personality on the stage of adulthood. He dedicated a lot of time to studying the period of adulthood and transitional period from youth to adulthood. Jung believed that personality went into important transformation during the period of adulthood and believed the main developmental tasks of this period to be centering on the sense of contraction and superiority.

Erikson, Freud and Jung are prominent psychological specialists. Probably, it’s impossible to find a person who doesn’t know these names. All of them belong to so called Freudian school established by Sigmund Freud. I’ve chosen these three personalities as I believe it will be very interesting to see the way Freud’s teaching changed and developed by his pupils and successors. I believe that all there psychologists brought great contribution to the science of psychology and their influence on the development of this science is and will be strong during the long period of time.

All three psychoanalytic researches belong to Freudian school though their positions differ on many fundamental subjects. What unite Freud and Jung and contrasts them to Erikson is their belief in the power of unconscious and strong influence it has in all spheres of human life. Erikoson in his turn can be described as social psychologist as he believed in strong influence of the surrounding on the development of the personality.


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