Unlike Erikson, Freud’s theories were based upon studies of neurotic patients; Erikson’s theories were based upon studies of normal childhood. Keoke and Porterfield (2001) explain the beginning of Erikson’s observation of normal childhood development as follows: in 1902, Erickson was born in Germany to a well-off family who immigrated to Germany from Denmark; at the age of 25 years, Erickson moved to Vienna, Austria where he established a school and was fortunate to become one of Sigmund Freud’s students and colleagues. During the Hitler reign of terror, Erikson migrated to the United States where he worked with prominent anthropologists and studied two American Indian tribes called the Sioux and Yukon. Erickson’s anthropology study turned into the first empirical study on normal childhood development. The focus of the study was the early childhood development of the Sioux and Yukon children in their home and school environment compared to White American children. After a longitudinal scientific investigation focused upon the childhood development of the Sioux, Yukon, and White American cultures, including the American Welfare system, Erikson knew that it was time to establish his own theory of development which was in direct conflict to his teacher and colleague namely Freud (Keoke & Porterfield, 2001).
Santrock (1997) describes Erikson’s famous eight developmental stages as follows: (a) Trust vs. Mistrust is focused upon the fetal years through the first year and ideally the child learns to get physical and emotional needs fulfilled of which must be achieved before the child will learn how to trust; (b) Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt initiate around the second year of the child’s life in which independence and the assertion of the child’s will is observed through the behavior of doing things and exploring. Erikson observed that if ...
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