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Stages of Psychosexual Development According to Freud’s Psychoanalytic Sexual Drive Theory

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According to Wikipedia (2018), psychosexual development is the main element of element of Freud’s psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, in which a human possesses a sexual energy called libido energy that develops in 5 stages.

The first stage of psychosexual development is the Oral stage which is when libido is focused on the baby’s mouth. To get satisfaction the baby resorts to sucking, biting and breastfeeding. This oral stimulation could lead to oral fixation later on in the person’s life such as “smoking, gluttony or alcoholism; nailbiting; the excessive use of sarcasm”.

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The second stage is the Anal stage. At this stage libido energy is centered on the baby’s anus and the baby gains pleasure from excreting waste. The baby now realizes that they can control their bodily functions and are their own person – a person whose decisions can affect other people’s lives. Hence, their ego has developed. Freud believed that a significant event in a child’s life is when they are being potty trained and that this has a big impact on what type of person that child will become. For example, if they were not trained in a kind, patient environment but in a strict and picky one, they in turn may become a person with issues regarding authority.

The third stage is the Phallic stage in which the libidinal energy focuses on the sexual organs and the child becomes sexual. The child is able to differentiate between the two genders and can tell how they are different or similar. Freud uses a term called Oedipus complex to describe how a young boy is possessive over his mother and would like to take his father’s position but is afraid that he will be punished by his father. This fear is called castration anxiety by Freud according to verywellmind.com. Similarly to this, girls went through the Electra complex. Freud thought that girls suffered penis envy, thus identifying with their mother to vicariously possess the other parent. He believed that girls never got over their penis envy and that women stay fixated at this stage.

The fourth stage is the Latency period. The child’s sexual urges are repressed, and their time is spent socializing with their friends, taking part in activities and obtaining new skills and qualities. It is a time of finding their own identity. The libido energy is not focused on any bodily area.

The last stage is called the Genital stage in which the person’s hormones trigger the libido which reappears. The persons interest in sexual pleasure is stronger and is redirected towards others to gain pleasure. These sexual interests become one with the adult’s attitudes and feelings and if the other stages of psychosexual development are successful then the person will be an adaptable, caring person.

The three parts of personality development according to Freud are the id, ego and the superego.

The id is the part of the personality that is present from the time the child is born and the ego and supergo develop as they grow. The id is the unconscious part of the mind that strives to achieve all their needs and desires. It is an important part of a child’s mind as it ensures their needs are met e.g. hunger and thirst. They will cry until their needs are met. However, not every need and desire of ours will be met which is a contrast to the pleasure principle in which they are immediately fulfilled. If we never learned that we do not get everything we want then we would grow up to be selfish people who take everything from anyone.

The second part that develops is the ego. It realizes that our desires won’t always be met, thus compromising with reality. It helps understand that not everything will go our way and so we find other solutions to getting what we set out to get or do. According to Freud, the ego works by the reality principle in which it tries to “balance the demands of the unconscious mind with what is practical”. The ego makes sure that the impulses of the ego is dealt with in a way that is socially acceptable. It also stops the unconscious part of the mind from dominating the conscious part.

The last part of our personality development is the superego. The superego contains all the things we’ve learned from the people around us, strict rules from others we’ve internalized. The ego finds a balance between the id and the superego as the superego commits itself to an idea that the id has created. It wants to achieve the id’s idea even at the expense of one’s self.

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