Psychosexual Development Essay

The theory of psychosexual development describes how personality develops throughout our childhood and our experiences during childhood. This theory was developed by Freud, and is well known to the world of psychology. Even though it is well known it is also considered one of the most controversial theories. Freud developed this theory in which there are five different stages.

Stage one is considered the oral stage. This stage starts at the birth of the child and ends when the child turns one. During this stage the infant gets the majority of their interactions through their mouth. The rooting and sucking reflexes are very important during this stage because their mouths are vital for eating. Most if not all infants derive pleasure from oral stimulation through gratifying activities such as tasting and sucking. During this stage the child develops a sense of trust and comfort because the caretaker/parents are responsible for feedings. The primary conflict during this stage is trying to wean the child off because the child has to become less dependent of the caretaker/parent.

Stage two is the anal stage. This stage begins when the child turns one and ends once the child is three years old. Freud believes that during this stage the primary focus of the libido is to learn to control bladder and bowel movements. The major conflict of this stage is toilet training because he child must learn to control his/her bodily needs. Once the child has developed such control they get a sense of accomplishment and independence. But, success at this stage is dependent upon the parents approach to potty training and this stage is more successful when praises and rewards are given.

Stage three s the phallic stage and the erogenous zone is the genital. This stage begins once the child turns three and ends once the child turns six years old. During the phallic stage the libidos primary focus is the genitals. It’s at this age that children begin to discover the difference between males and females. Freud believes that boys, in this stage, begin to view their father as a rival for their mother’s affection. The Oedipus complex describes the feelings that Freud says the boys go through during this stage. These boys also fear they will be punished by their fathers so Freud termed this fear castration anxiety.

Stage four is considered the laten period. This stage occurs from the age six to puberty. During this stage the interest of the libido are suppressed. The development of the child’s ego and superego contribute to this period of calm. This stage begins just around the time that children are starting school and are becoming more concerned with peer relationships, hobbies, and other interests. This stage is very important to the development of social, communication skills, and self confidence.

Stage five of the psychosexual development theory is the genital stage. The erogenous zone of this stage is maturing sexual interest. This is the final stage of psychosexual s=development, and during this stage the individual develops a strong sexual interest in the opposite sex. This stage will only end once someone dies. During this stage the interest and welfare of others grows. The goal of this stage is to establish a balance between various areas of life.

After studying this theory, I now see why it is one of the most controversial theories. This theory places much of its focus on males an very rarely mentions the development of females. Freud’s theories can also be very difficult to test; for example, concepts that Freud uses such as the libido cannot be tested and are impossible to measure. New research being done often discredits Freud’s work. Freud’s predictions are also very vague, and is based upon case studies about adult patients and their recollections of their childhood not actual observation and study of children.

Born on May 6, 1856 in Moravia, Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, developed the field of psychoanalysis. Freud developed many theories including those that focus on the unconscious, the interpretation of dreams, Id, ego, and super ego, and what is referred to as the psychosexual development theory. Psychosexual development is a theory that Freud based upon the Greek tragedy by Sophocles Oedipus Rex and is often referred to as the Oedipus Complex.

The Oedipus Complex teaches that the unconscious holds repressed thoughts that boys have a desire to have sexual intercourse with their mothers, while wanting to murder their father. The theory isn’t limited solely to males, as Freud believed that girls had a sexual attraction to their fathers; this was later referred to as the Electra Complex. Freud taught that these unconscious thinking patterns form during several stages of development until they are eradicated by normal, healthy sexual development. Freud’s theory of psychosexual development is divided into five stages. These are oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. Freud’s theory was an important factor to his teachings based upon the development of the human personality.

Oral Stage

The oral stage occurs in an infant’s life from birth to 18 months. During this time, an infant is focused with receiving oral pleasure. This occurs through breast or bottle feeding, or sucking on a pacifier. It is believed that if an infant receives too much or too little oral stimulation, they may develop a fixation or a personality trait that is fixated on oral gratification. It is believed that these people may focus on activities that involve the mouth such as over eating, biting the fingernails, smoking, or drinking. The theory states that these people may develop personality traits such as becoming extremely gullible or naive, always following others and never taking the lead, and becoming extremely dependent upon others.

Anal Stage

The anal stage is directly related to a child’s awareness of bowel control and gaining pleasure through the act of eliminating or retaining feces. Freud’s theory puts the anal stage between 18 months and three years. It is believed that when a child becomes fixated on receiving pleasure through controlling and eliminating feces, a child can become obsessed with control, perfection, and cleanliness. This is often referred to as anal retentive, while anal expulsive is the opposite. Those who are anal expulsive may be extremely disorganized, live in chaos, and are known for making messes.

Phallic Stage

Freud believes the phallic stage or the Oedipus or Electra complexes occurs during a child is three to six years of age. The belief is that male children harbor unconscious, sexual attraction to their mothers, while female children develop a sexual attraction to their father. Freud taught that young boys also deal with feelings of rivalry with their father. These feelings naturally resolve once the child begins to identify with their same sex parent. By identifying with the same sex parent, the child continues with normal, healthy sexual development. If a child becomes fixated during this phase, the result could be sexual deviance or a confused sexual identity.

Latency Stage

The latency stage is named so because Freud believed there weren’t many overt forms of sexual gratification displayed. This stage is said to last from the age of six until a child enters puberty. Most children throughout this age form same sex friendships and play in a manner that is non-sexual. Unconscious sexual desires and thoughts remain repressed.

Genital Stage

Freud believed that after the unconscious, sexual desires are repressed and remain dormant during the latency stage, they are awakened due to puberty. This stage begins at puberty and develops with the physiology changes brought on through hormones. The prior stages of development result in a focus on the genitals as a source for pleasure and teens develop and explore attractions to the opposite sex. The genital stage is the last stage of the psychosexual development theory.

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