Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development

Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development
December 15, 2021 2 Comments Mental health emmahjoy

According to Sigmund Freud, children go through psychosexual developmental stages before they become adults. Freud believed that in every stage of growth, a child can receive sexual gratification from any part of their body.

These parts of the body according to Freud are known as erogenous zones. They are the zones that are sensitive to stimulation.

The theory emphasizes on sexual pleasure as a significant aspect in the human development. Each of the developmental stages are marked with conflicts that builds growth or stifles development.

The conflicts according to Freud can be resolved and when it is successful, a healthy personality is developed.

However, if the conflicts are not resolved at a given age, a fixation can occur. A fixation is where an individual feels “stuck” in an earlier developmental stage until the conflict is resolved.

The five psychosexual stages include;

Oral Stage

It occurs between 0- 1 year.

The Erogenous zone is in the mouth. According to Freud, the mouth is the source of pleasure for the child at this age.

It is easy to notice that a child is often sucking their fingers or play toys. The common activities that are easily noticed include; breast feeding, sucking, biting and randomly putting things in their mouths.

The fixations that can occur when this stage is not properly resolved is that there would be traits such as excessive gum chewing, nail biting tendencies, and thumb sucking.

Other traits that are also associated with oral fixation include over eating, smoking, too much intake of alcohol.

Anal Stage

It occurs between 1 – 3 years.

The Erogenous zone is the anus and bladder. The sexual pleasure at this stage is marked with the child learning how to control their bowel movements.

It is normally referred to as potty training where the parent guides the child on how, when and where to poop. It is therefore the first stage upon which a child learns to listen to authority.

How the care giver influences the child during this stage affects the way a child would perceive and interact with authority as they grow up.

The fixations that occur in this stage is a reflection on the care givers authority. A harsh care giver might influence the child to develop anal retention.

According to American Psychological Association, Anal retention is the phase in anal stage where the child gains sexual pleasure by retaining feces. It is a sadistic instinct that is linked to control and possession.

Anal retention in a child is seen when they hold feces and only release when they are coerced to do so. The fixation can extend to adulthood where the individual requires love, affection and sacrifice from other people while they do not reciprocate.

The anal retentive child might grow into an individual who is obsessed with control, are stingy, rigid and some of them tend to be obsessed with cleanliness.

A care giver who is very liberal might influence the child to be Anal repulsive. Anal repulsion is when pleasure is obtained by expelling feces and the sadistic instinct is to destroy or be messy.

Anal repulsive child grows into a person who is messy, disorganized, wasteful, over shares and have poor boundaries.

Phallic Stage

It occurs between 3 – 6 years.

The Erogenous zone is the genitals. The conflict in this stage is based on penis fixation. According to Freud, the young boys in this stage become aware of their penis and get obsessed with it.

The girls on the other hand realize they do not have a penis and thus develop a penis envy trait. These obsession of the penis is explained using two phenomenon referred to as Electra and Oedipus complex.

The Oedipus Complex is a theory based on the Greek myth where a young man kills his father and marries his mother. According to Freud , every boy is in love with their other and as a result they tend to be overly protective of them.

They develop a desire to replace their father and as a result, they tend to fear that their father might punish the for harboring these feelings hence developing a castration anxiety.

The Electra complex refers to the feelings experienced by the girls. The young girls tend to compete with their mothers for the attention of their fathers.

To resolve the conflicts in this stage, the child tend to identify with the parent of the same sex as a vicarious means of winning the opposite sex parent. However, Freud states that girls never completely resolve this stage and thus remain to love their fathers.

Latent Stage

It occurs between 7 to 10 years.

During this phase, the sexual feelings are in active. This is because the Id has been repressed and the Super-Ego and Ego tends to develop leading to the calm nature.

The child is focused on learning social skills and values. They are getting into school and center of their attention is to interact and build relationships.

However, Freud still thought that a child at this stage can still develop a fixation. The fixation is where the child is unable to grow into maturity and inability to form fulfilling adult relationships.

Genital Stage

Starts between the period of 12 years until death.

The Erogenous zones are the genital that develop with maturing sexual interests. The libido becomes active once again during puberty.

It is the stage where an individual develops a strong sexual interest towards the opposite sex. It is at this stage that an individuals life seeks to find a balance in the various occurrences in life.

Freud says that it is marked with the full development of the Ego and Super-Ego. The younger children are controlled by the desires of the Id which demands immediate satisfaction of basic needs.

If an individual successfully navigates in this stage, they develop heterosexual relationships that are loving and lifelong.

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