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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

are there significant differences between methamphetamine and it's long term effects on male cognitive behavioral and function versus female?
Shiloh Reply
effects will be the same( male & female)
Smith
tell me more
baby
no. it's much worse on females. almost s complete polar switch
cody
please is there any difference between abnormal behaviour and normal behaviour?
Ayodele Reply
hm
sheere
yes abnormal behavior is "not normal ", actions in society's eyes. an example of abnormal behavior (I remember from a textbook) ; a man who runs around frantically in a grocery store licking strangers'(women's) shoes because when he was a baby his mom would tickle his feet/give them special attentio
Peter
yes there is a difference between abnormal and normal behaviour... This is simply because abnormal behaviour is deviating from the normal behaviour of the society while normal behaviour is obeying the moral standards in the society.
Emmanuel
how about disorders? like, always having a tantrums and irrational most of the time?
Jheannalyn
a behavior becomes pathological when 1. there is a before and after : you can see a real change of behavior/cognition or 2. behavior is pathological when it makes yourself or others suffer
Perle
what is difference between disease and disorder
Shahab
disease demand medicin but disorder demands care plus medicin
Zeeshan
I think the concept of normal and abnormal behavior in general is not much of psychological concept but more of sociological concept. A behavior or act in itself is not normal or abnormal. How society perceives that specific behavior, that's what decides what's normal.
Juveriya
For instance, gay marriage is considered normal where homosexuality is legalized. Where it isn't legalized, its abnormal.
Juveriya
So there cannot be an absolute answer for your question
Juveriya
well abnormality is pretty much considered in popular society which is something of a correlation of psycholigical perspective reflected through activity... something abstract... or non trending or precedented. or maybe something disturbing or atypical for people in their respective birth cohorts.
Geoffrey
What is the difference between motivation and goal?
vishal Reply
goal is what you want to accomplish. motivation is what drives you to achieve it
Tay
motivation is ambitious and a goal is a ambition
Alivia
But Motivation is just stay there for only short time
Manish
goal is our destination and motivation is a vehicle to reach goal
pradeep
motivation is the One person improved in self development another person advices......... goal is achievement at one of the life.....
thangaraj
motivation is for our personality development thing but goal is our whole personality.
Zeeshan
but its should be more remember without motivation no life no goal .
Zeeshan
it's like this
Tay
if my goal is to get my degree. then me wanting a better job is my motivation. ultimately family
Tay
Motivation is the vehicle we use to reach our goal.
Zachary
Please wat r the schools of psychology
Jennifer
i want the outline of it,its methodology
Jennifer
hi guys can someone help me how can I over or stress ?
Folet
Jennifer I need to take my own advice however stress relief is something that is done through catharsis which in my estimation is defined as a physical or mental activity used as therapy... that can include, yoga, meditation, sex, physical activity like a sport or martial art practice or sometimes .
Geoffrey
the schools of psych I have no clue about
Geoffrey
If you want to be something ,that we can say you have goal.But you will never be that without enough effort,if you getting accurate rewards from your surrounding as accepting you than before when you are trying to be something.that we can say motivation.it may be in the form of acceptance and suport
Hot
motiVation is the part of goal . but it has a backbone value for goal .with out motivation wo can not Think about our aim of life, our goals .
Zeeshan
how do you get motivation? I'm such a lax person
Alexsus
what is mutation?
Amaya Reply
What is mindfulness
rahul
mindfulness means to be aware of the present
Agnieszka
meaning that you are totally focussing on the present...and living in the moment
Agnieszka
also present variables
Carl
hello guys
Folet
can someone help with few answers ?
Folet
hi what is all about ?
Folet Reply
The theory of evolution and its natural selection is a given trait by respond it is also classical conditioning it is a given trait that makes humans more unique than any other species of animals plants or an the theory o the Big Bang is a spontaneous person and has expanded ev we do not know that m
Ryan Reply
behaviors are most successful in treating what?
Cody Reply
mental health disorders
Joyce
Please guys am about to begin my project, I'd love suggestions on topics I can possibly take up.
Anigwe Reply
What are your guide lines
Sarah
Hi could anyone discuss self serving bias?
vishal Reply
what is self serving bias?
vishal
if you achieve something you are willing to take credit for that. If you don't achieve,you simply say it is because of external factors
Vamsi
I think simple and best example would be if we score good marks we say "I worked hard".If we don't get good marks we say "teacher didn't teach the lesson well".
Vamsi
is it universally applicable?
vishal
yes
Vamsi
kindly explain how
vishal
If I'm not wrong, universally applicable means something which applies to everyone in general. So if you mean to ask whether everyone has a self serving bias, then the answer is No. Because self defeating bias, which is exactly opposite of self serving bias also exists.
Juveriya
An individual can have either of these two biases
Juveriya
what does attribution means?
Vamsi Reply
I have the same doubt... As we can search for meaning... But not able to understand the concept
SNEHAL
yes
Vamsi
atttibution is a social cognitive function that allows us to give, to attribute, feelings of thoughts to somebody that's not ourself. for example I can say that my friend is feeling sad today for some reasons because I can consider that my friend is different than me. does it help ?
Perle
Thank you Perle.Can I get another example?
Vamsi
imagine you are walking in the street and you see someone smiling. you can think "oh this person looks happy"
Perle
basically it's the ability to understand that others are not you and they can have their own feelings or thoughts
Perle
Thank you so much.
Vamsi
wait wait. my last example is wrong. seeing someone smiling and think they're happy is the theory of mind, not attribution
Perle
Okay
Suman
Is this definition correct "basically it's the ability to understand that others are not you and they can have their own feelings or thoughts."
Vamsi
yup ☺
Perle
but social cognitive functions are tricky. theory of mind and attribution are quite close !
Perle
Then can you please give me another example.
Vamsi
two examples : someone always talks during a class, while others listen to the professor. the intern attribution that you can think of is : this person doesn't like school
Perle
now this time, all students talk during a class. the external attribution that you can think of is : the class is boring
Perle
attribution is nothing but just the process by which we human explain our behaviour
Agnieszka
like when I get good marks..i will attribute this to my performance and study
Agnieszka
Hi Perle could you help me with one question
vishal
Is Self serving bias universal in attribution process?
vishal
self serving bias is like the tendency to perceive ourselves in very righteous manner
Agnieszka
it's more on focussing on the need to maintain high self esteem
Agnieszka
the basics are clear I needed to know more on the universal applicability about the SSB (self serving bias)
vishal
vishal yup thats a good idea ...
ecstasy
please what arw the two main ways of controlling behaviour?
Gifty Reply
patience and meditation
ChandraKumar
any one ,what is bio psychological model
EXTRA
Bio psychological model means bio means body and psychological means mind so bio psychological model is studies mind and body relationships
Nilamani
daily prayers and daily affirmations and daily excercise
Alban
and what is health belief model?
EXTRA
what us psychology
Ndeh Reply
psychology is the study of mind. And also the study of human behavior.
Simisola
yeah
Oruta
thank you
Ndeh
Ok
Oruta
psychology is the systematic study of human and animal mind and its mental processes.
Christopher
psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour...And it also includes the study of animals as well as humans.
kelson
Psychology is the scientific and systematic study of mental activities, behavior and cognitive process of organism to relationships between it's environment...
Nilamani
yes
Ahsan
What could be some short term and long terms goals one can have,in order to become an education psychologist?
Hibba Reply
hmmm
Maaruf
Short term: - contact a school psychologist and shadow them for a few days - study and keep up with college coursework - join psychology club/ groups Long term: - transfer to a 4 year university - choose wisely your graduate school - talk to graduates from those schools
Isela
thank you Isela Huerta :)
Hibba
how to recognize the person with psychological disorders?
Nawaz
Please keep in mind that it's not allowed to promote any social groups (whatsapp, facebook, etc...), exchange phone numbers, email addresses or ask for personal information on QuizOver's platform.
QuizOver Reply
I want to start psychology courses, which one would you suggest i do first, and why? Im about to move to a different place.
Amanda Reply
open university
rauhahenki
it goes in chronological order, so to speak
rauhahenki
thank you
Amanda
how is Coursera is this matter, what's the best MOOC source?
Suvigya
Could you recommend any online course that would be useful for the purpose. Open university such as?
Swati
post Graduation.... Diploma In Counseling
srikanth
Psychopharmacology
srikanth
Lot Of Courses.... in Which Side You Wanna Go In Particular?
srikanth
oh. well i wish to study before i go into college. counseling sounds good, people like to come to me for advise, and i am very detail oriented and love creative art stuff.
Amanda
@Swati have you tried Coursera
Suvigya
Child Counseling Abnormal Behaviors Addiction's - Rehabilitation Marriage Counseling and A lot More...
srikanth
Which University should I enroll for a Counseling Psychology.
Emmanuel
Yes, I've checked that. Are they good enough to start with? @suvigya
Swati
Yes, online university? Suggestions on that?
Swati
@srikanth i am in usa going to a different state/province. so online makes more sense. is it possible to be really good in more than one ☺
Amanda
yes i agree any suggestions for online university. or just where we can take courses/classes, partial university
Amanda
yah There is A lot of Certification Courses In ONLINE... And Distance Education..
srikanth
thank you for the responses
Amanda
can any 1 tell me how to how to joint indian army as Psychologist
Gaurav
can someone tell me which are some popular certification courses?
pavithra
For Psychologist
Gaurav
family Counselling. @Pavithra Nair..
srikanth
thanks
pavithra
hy
Jennifer
Any one knows where to find Free courses with certification in psychology?
Gian
It Depends On Place Where You Live In
srikanth
in Telangana Osmania University They Offered Different PG Diploma Courses They Collect Minimum Fee It's Too Low... 5k to 6k In Indian Currency
srikanth
Free online courses, without country bounds, do you know some?
Gian

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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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