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Stages of psychosexual development

Freud believed that personality develops during early childhood: Childhood experiences shape our personalities as well as our behavior as adults. He asserted that we develop via a series of stages during childhood. Each of us must pass through these childhood stages, and if we do not have the proper nurturing and parenting during a stage, we will be stuck, or fixated, in that stage, even as adults.

In each psychosexual stage of development , the child’s pleasure-seeking urges, coming from the id, are focused on a different area of the body, called an erogenous zone. The stages are oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital ( [link] ).

Freud’s psychosexual development theory is quite controversial. To understand the origins of the theory, it is helpful to be familiar with the political, social, and cultural influences of Freud’s day in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century. During this era, a climate of sexual repression, combined with limited understanding and education surrounding human sexuality, heavily influenced Freud’s perspective. Given that sex was a taboo topic, Freud assumed that negative emotional states (neuroses) stemmed from suppression of unconscious sexual and aggressive urges. For Freud, his own recollections and interpretations of patients’ experiences and dreams were sufficient proof that psychosexual stages were universal events in early childhood.

Freud’s stages of psychosexual development
Stage Age (years) Erogenous Zone Major Conflict Adult Fixation Example
Oral 0–1 Mouth Weaning off breast or bottle Smoking, overeating
Anal 1–3 Anus Toilet training Neatness, messiness
Phallic 3–6 Genitals Oedipus/Electra complex Vanity, overambition
Latency 6–12 None None None
Genital 12+ Genitals None None

Oral stage

In the oral stage    (birth to 1 year), pleasure is focused on the mouth. Eating and the pleasure derived from sucking (nipples, pacifiers, and thumbs) play a large part in a baby’s first year of life. At around 1 year of age, babies are weaned from the bottle or breast, and this process can create conflict if not handled properly by caregivers. According to Freud, an adult who smokes, drinks, overeats, or bites her nails is fixated in the oral stage of her psychosexual development; she may have been weaned too early or too late, resulting in these fixation tendencies, all of which seek to ease anxiety.

Anal stage

After passing through the oral stage, children enter what Freud termed the anal stage    (1–3 years). In this stage, children experience pleasure in their bowel and bladder movements, so it makes sense that the conflict in this stage is over toilet training. Freud suggested that success at the anal stage depended on how parents handled toilet training. Parents who offer praise and rewards encourage positive results and can help children feel competent. Parents who are harsh in toilet training can cause a child to become fixated at the anal stage, leading to the development of an anal-retentive personality. The anal-retentive personality is stingy and stubborn, has a compulsive need for order and neatness, and might be considered a perfectionist. If parents are too lenient in toilet training, the child might also become fixated and display an anal-expulsive personality. The anal-expulsive personality is messy, careless, disorganized, and prone to emotional outbursts.

Phallic stage

Freud’s third stage of psychosexual development is the phallic stage    (3–6 years), corresponding to the age when children become aware of their bodies and recognize the differences between boys and girls. The erogenous zone in this stage is the genitals. Conflict arises when the child feels a desire for the opposite-sex parent, and jealousy and hatred toward the same-sex parent. For boys, this is called the Oedipus complex, involving a boy's desire for his mother and his urge to replace his father who is seen as a rival for the mother’s attention. At the same time, the boy is afraid his father will punish him for his feelings, so he experiences castration anxiety . The Oedipus complex is successfully resolved when the boy begins to identify with his father as an indirect way to have the mother. Failure to resolve the Oedipus complex may result in fixation and development of a personality that might be described as vain and overly ambitious.

Girls experience a comparable conflict in the phallic stage—the Electra complex. The Electra complex, while often attributed to Freud, was actually proposed by Freud’s protégé, Carl Jung (Jung&Kerenyi, 1963). A girl desires the attention of her father and wishes to take her mother’s place. Jung also said that girls are angry with the mother for not providing them with a penis—hence the term penis envy . While Freud initially embraced the Electra complex as a parallel to the Oedipus complex, he later rejected it, yet it remains as a cornerstone of Freudian theory, thanks in part to academics in the field (Freud, 1931/1968; Scott, 2005).

Latency period

Following the phallic stage of psychosexual development is a period known as the latency period    (6 years to puberty). This period is not considered a stage, because sexual feelings are dormant as children focus on other pursuits, such as school, friendships, hobbies, and sports. Children generally engage in activities with peers of the same sex, which serves to consolidate a child’s gender-role identity.

Genital stage

The final stage is the genital stage    (from puberty on). In this stage, there is a sexual reawakening as the incestuous urges resurface. The young person redirects these urges to other, more socially acceptable partners (who often resemble the other-sex parent). People in this stage have mature sexual interests, which for Freud meant a strong desire for the opposite sex. Individuals who successfully completed the previous stages, reaching the genital stage with no fixations, are said to be well-balanced, healthy adults.

While most of Freud’s ideas have not found support in modern research, we cannot discount the contributions that Freud has made to the field of psychology. It was Freud who pointed out that a large part of our mental life is influenced by the experiences of early childhood and takes place outside of our conscious awareness; his theories paved the way for others.

Summary

Sigmund Freud presented the first comprehensive theory of personality. He was also the first to recognize that much of our mental life takes place outside of our conscious awareness. Freud also proposed three components to our personality: the id, ego, and superego. The job of the ego is to balance the sexual and aggressive drives of the id with the moral ideal of the superego. Freud also said that personality develops through a series of psychosexual stages. In each stage, pleasure focuses on a specific erogenous zone. Failure to resolve a stage can lead one to become fixated in that stage, leading to unhealthy personality traits. Successful resolution of the stages leads to a healthy adult.

Personal application questions

What are some examples of defense mechanisms that you have used yourself or have witnessed others using?

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Questions & Answers

a real life example of humanistic model
Alexsus Reply
what is a linear relationship
Happy Reply
directly related. like if one factor changes, so will the other
explain the process of visua sensation
David Reply
Sensation is defined as the stimulation of sense organs Visual sensation is a physiological process which means that it is the same for everyone. We absorb energy such as electro magnetic energy (light) or sound waves by sensory organs such as eyes.
Happy
what is selective attention?
Aqeelah
Happy what did you say visual sensation is ?
Tanam
please make your explanation clear for us
Tanam
you mean you experience sensation by what you see..
Ingrid
I thought it was by what your five senses interpreted
Fire
visual has to do with the eyes alone
Ayomide
sensory has to do with all the sense organs ranging from the eyes,nose, skin,tongue and ear
Ayomide
selective attention is focusing on a particular stimulus out of myriads of stimuli
Ayomide
visual sensation in simple terms is standing from far it seems to assume that the trees are emerged but when you get they totally separated
Tanam
seeing the trees been emerged is the visual sensation.That is my understanding, you can also find out
Tanam
a woman watch me all time why
Janak Reply
because it is hard to test alot of things in it empiricaly
Ahmed Reply
good Morning, I want someone to give me a lecture on levels of conscious
Tebukoza Reply
why is psyche represented as a butterfly?
Gabriella Reply
Psyche's mythological imagery in ancient art is represented with butterfly wings, amply depicted in pottery as well. ... The metamorphosis of the butterfly inspired many to use butterflies as a symbol of the soul's exit from the body. Thus, the myth of Psyche concomitantly signifies soul and butterf
Sashini
ok thanks
Gabriella
On what basis do people argue that genes do not set limits on a person's potential?
Shruti Reply
The Nature-Nature Thingy
Wayne
Nature vs nurture
Eric
well, going by Polygenic Hypothesis formulated in a genome-wide association study (GWAS), each (even all) gene(s) affects every complex trait. from physical to even one's mental growth (though it's still debatable).
Like you know, the selfish gene, like genes passed on to generation after generation​; and if a person with a certain gene arrangement pattern meets someone remotely resembling even a part of it, he/she'll automatically behave selflessly towards the other person.
somewhat linking to the idea of soulmates, and Plato's idea of conjoint men and women who were split by God and hence strive to become one yet again. (I know I'm wandering away from psychology here)
But IQ is affected by both genes and environment.
"Other studies at the world-leading Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research suggest that many of our traits are more than 50% inherited, including obedience to authority, vulnerability to stress, and risk-seeking. "
as for effect of the environment, study of epigenetics shows that how many inherited traits only get “switched on” in certain environments.
BUT, "Various options are pencilled in by our genes, and our life experiences determine which get inked." That is, what gets 'unlocked' depends on our experience and environment factor.
like determining if a person will be introvert or extrovert, by just observing his parents is not enough. though it does contribute a major part.
so, I'd like to go against your question (somewhat) and say, genes do set limitations, but what some genes only 'unlock' under certain circumstances and environment, so they don't limit it totally
hope it helped. @ me (CK) if any doubts or queries remain
great
Mateen
Hi, I have completed my Engineering with MBA in HR, and I want to pursue my career in field related to psychology. Is it possible to study psychology and pursue my dream.
Aparnaa Reply
You can but you'll have to start from FYBA again
Rama
Oh! hmm thank you.
Aparnaa
Look into getting a doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology. There are myriad fields within psychology; which one are you pursuing?
David
something like counselling!
Aparnaa
if you want to be a licensed professional counselor, you need to get a master of arts degree in counseling. It takes about two years to complete. you will have a practicum/internship as well within your coursework. Before you apply for a degree, find out your states requirements about licensure.
David
Hmm i will check the details and thank you so much!
Aparnaa
am a a student clinical officer
David Reply
What is the hardest subject/something-you-have-to-learn in a psychology degree?
Emiko Reply
The hardest subject is your mind ..Kokoro
Boy
well, obviously?
Emiko
Depends on what your interest is. Some ppl find Industrial/Organisational Psych difficult or some find Cognitive Psychology difficult and think they are very dry subjects, but I enjoy learning them. But counseling/ Abnormal Psychology was more difficult for me because you gotta learn stuff by heart.
Rama
I'm interested in Personality Psychology. What so I need to learn in that to do well in that area?
Emiko
clinical psychology is outstanding i must say
Arindam
clinical psychology is outstanding i must say
Arindam
What level of Psychology statistics have you guys done so far?
Maria
i hv completed MA in clinical
Arindam
@Maria, I've learnt just the basic Statistics. t test, ANOVA ( F test), Z test and chi square
Rama
@Emiko tell which grade are you in currently so I can suggest what to study accordingly.
Rama
a women always look me all day why
Janak
she is cur
Park
curios about you*
Park
or it's just in your mind @janak, do keep both the possibilities in mind
I wanna welcome everyone to my wedding
Boy Reply
psychological marriage
Boy
let's get it
Maikol
so what's the first part you wish to dive in?
Maikol
I'm scared so I can't sleep...what should I do to fall asleep?
Alyssa Reply
Try ASMR?
hot shower with music or just music
Robert
I can't sleep either when I'm scared. What I did to help me sleep was: I try to distract my mind with comforting thoughts, relaxing before jumping onto the bed, drain my energy (walking around the house, little exercises), avoid screen 1 hour before going to sleep.
Emiko
You can also search in the internet fr more information
Emiko
Read Hanuman Chalisa And also Read About Shri Hanuman ji
Amber
What kind of thoughts do you get that affect your sleeping routine?
Namira
I can't sleep when I think about my future. how can I better my life. what things I can do to help out others and have a better way of life. I think about how to stop struggling in life.
said
Said Hamdani, take a sheet of paper, write down all the things you want to do or achieve in life, from smallest to the biggest desires, write down everything. After doing that, on another page, write down the procedures you have to follow or things you have to do in order to achieve your goals.
Namira
Start now, and trust the process. Believe in yourself, believe in your abilities and work hard :) By doing this, you will be able to sleep properly and you won't get worried about how to make your life a better place.
Namira
Struggles are important in life, they shape you and prepare you for the rest of the life. So, it's okay to struggle :) Look around you, start helping people in solving their little problems, you can help your parents, your friends or anyone.
Namira
response ,lies in frontal lobe
Mani Reply
Hello? o.o?
Alyssa
g
Mani
I never even knew there was a chat here...o.o...
Alyssa
hello
Amal
lies in frontal lobe?
Amal
I'm so confused...o.o...
Alyssa
I just downloaded this app XD
Alyssa
is the social situation and names in frontal lobe?
Amal
me too Alyssa
Amal
is ur major psychology?
Amal
:)
Ann
I'm actually still in high school :3 I want to major in Psychology when I go to college though :3
Alyssa
same here alyssa hehe
Ann
You're in high school too? :3
Alyssa
uhh senior high
Ann
hi everyone.how are you keeping ?😊
Nikkhil
hi everyone.how are you keeping ?😊
Nikkhil
I'm in my 11th year :3 (grade 11)
Alyssa
I'm trying to survive school XD
Alyssa
i wnt more info about it
Laraib
m cnfsed
Laraib
all of us r studying psychology?
Arindam
ohh... grade 12 student here :))
Ann
I want to when I finish high school (if my mom will allow me to) :3
Alyssa
I'm a pharmacist
meet
I'm a poetaster :p
Knowledge is power, it is very good you are studying psychology so young! you can do great things!
JOHN
thanks your motivation
meet
psychology student .. this is the final semester for me in the university
Amal
Amal saeed, very good! my friend and what will you do when you are out?
JOHN
am also a psychology student
moshood
John, thinking about Master
Amal
amal. where r u from?
Arindam
it ll be better if we study psychology a little bit
Arindam
hey
wammy
Heya everyone, nice to meet you all :3
Emiko
hey!
Diya
hey
Boy
hey
Boy
hi
Xxspecter
Hey frnds i am new here. i am here to learn something new.
Preet
welcome @Preet it's nice to learn something new
Emiko
members am new but I need to know you just send hi
David
hello ! I'm currently doing my Masters in Counseling Psych !
Rama
Arinda, I am from Qatar
Amal
hii
War
rama from wich university
Arindam
Hello all!. am jareesh, in Qatar now. very good to see this kind of community. am into technology but very keen to learn more about psychology and new in this field.
Jareesh
hey
Ahmadi
@Arindam. I completed my bachelor's from Mumbai university and now in S.N.D.T
Rama
Asalaam u Alaikum
War
I study psychology at home.I can't go to schools because of lions roaming around.just wanna improve my convincing skills through psychology studies . Am from Africa
Boy
Does anyone know an international site that offers accredited degrees for psychology?
Monique Reply
***bestcollegereviews.org/top/online-psychology-programs/ maybe this'll help
Thank you
Monique
the name's CK, and glad to help :-D
the name's CK, and glad to help :-D

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Source:  OpenStax, Psychology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 03, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11629/1.5
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