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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

what is post traumatic stress disorder?
Nafisa Reply
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Chandrakant
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PULSAR
Nafisa Sultana# Schizophrenia is characterised by thoughts or experiences that seem out of touch with reality, disorganised speech or behaviour and decreased participation in daily activities. Difficulty with concentration and memory may also be present.
Mohammad
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Alysha Reply
Describe the characteristics proposed by Alfred Adler that kay develop on first born, second born, and youngest children as a result of their order of birth within the familys
Alysha
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Nss
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Chandrakant
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Chandrakant
4 styles of life Authoritarian Authoritative Permissive Neglectful
Wajid
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Alysha Reply
One of the differences is that Adler had an holistic view of individuals when studying them whereas Freud worked on separate personality components
Syed
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Alysha
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Crazy
Freudian theory of personality have basic components as ID,Ego,Superego. Freud have psychosexual developmental model of personality. Whearas Adler given Birth order in personality development also focused on Inferiority complex and superiority complex.
Wajid
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Alysha
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Sonu
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Wajid
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Elijah Reply
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Wajid
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Ashley Reply
Whose book?
Natalie
if it is for this book, psychological trauma and illuminations are each taxed differently depending on your mental preparedness to engage in the subject.
Nathaniel
tell me 5 best things that a woman can do better than a guy and a guy can do better than a woman?
Chandrakant
I just know this that women have more emotional intelligence than men and men are more practical than women
Samiha
Yes womens emotional intelligence as mother is more than father and father is more practical than a mother
Wajid
does this apply to the career in applied behavior analysis?
Nicole Reply
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jeddy
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jeddy
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jeddy
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Teena
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Wajid
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Nafisa
I was recently diagnosed schizophrenic. after a lifetime of major depression. time I did hear voices not for long. how does one know if they really schizophrenic?
Cathy Reply
because psychology is the dissection and study of the mind, some find it hard to believe a diagnosis under mental health concerns. if you feel you have been misdiagnosed, go to another doctor. be 100% honest in all questions asked. to lie to your doctor is much like lying to yourself/hurting self
on the contrary, a diagnosed schizophrenic doesn't always have episodes. it may start off very mild and progress over time. it may also be triggered by events/situations/certain states of mind the patient may experience
diagnosed schizophrenics are normally prescribed a medication that can help. if you feel your medication is not working, or that it may make matters worse, discuss this with your doctor so he/she can make adjustments. what works for one person may not work for them all, and so doctors need to know
i want to study about psychology b'coz my father has a mental illness. iwant to help my father to healed from her sicknessed.
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Fortune Reply
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Gaunt
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Fortune
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Haim
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zayn Reply
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ABDUL
the word "psychology" comes from the Greek words "psyche" meaning life and "logos" meaning "explanation".
Soma
Psyche, in Greek mythology was a goddess who comes to represent the human soul's triumph over the misfortunes of life. The term psychology was coined. Psyche, meaning soul or mind and the root "ology" meaning the study of. I hope this helped.
JC
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ABDUL
how you convince a drug addict not to consume drugs?
Chandrakant
advise them to do exercises and keep themselves energetic, and tell them to control their urge and whenever they get an urge just go for a jogging or something (I'm not a professional, I'm only telling my point of view so please do ask someone else too)
Samiha
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Chandrakant
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Chandrakant
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Ritika Reply
Chunking is a process by which individual pieces of an information set are broken down and then grouped together in a meaningful whole.
Azquan
chunking is to information as syllabus is to word
ABDUL
what dose it means, operant and classic conditioning in short words?
Mikiyas Reply
classical conditioning is based on association between unnatural stimulus to natural response whether the conditioning on the basis of consequences is known as operant conditioning.
Wajid
scientific method, critical thinking.
jeddy Reply
the dealings with the thought process and human behavior.
jeddy
for acquiring knowledge by experimentation.
jeddy
study scientific study of mind and behavior.
jeddy
scientific study of the human mind and behavior.
jeddy
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Yussuf
hi what is behavioralism ?
jusem
what is psychology..?
Ania
the science of mental life.
Mikiyas
it focuses on understanding and modifying human behaviour
ABDUL
because emotion can't be measured.
marikrizz Reply
only by the person having the emotion.
Jason
it is subjective feeling
suman
only placed within levels of itself
Teena
and accepted as extended or beginning versions of emotions that are completely free of restrictions
Teena
anyone know, (2+2)/2
start
Emotions can't be measured, but they can be recognized. To be able to recognize certain characteristics that'll give me an idea about an individual's state of mind.
jeddy
any one knows (2+2)/2
start
it is 6
suman
anyone (2+2)/2
start
2
fadil
😂
suman
then more then just recognize but to comprehend the emotions being observed separating your own emotions from the situation currently in.. and rationally gaging the environment.. while then pulling each possible emotional vibe or energy exerted from the human being observed
Teena
How does learning influence behaviour
Tumpa Reply
our choice of study molds us and encourages us to practice what we learn. social structure also changes behavior based on the environment and peers. how we learn can be experimental as not everyone lesrns the same. some are more of a hands-on absorber, whereas others may learn better from listening
A confidence from personal knowledge. Not from having been taugbt. knowledge that you learned what was taught.
jeddy
life is choice, be ready for the best and be prepare for what yet to come in your way(Destiny)
Wayne
what is development
Momna Reply
In what Context are you referring to
Hassan
the progression/degression/growth of something. it is interpreted most commonly in psychology as how something is created or formed. ex: When did you develop an interest in psychology?
when refering to physical, cognitive, and social development, these types of development are determined by many circumstances. such as demographics, biology, and personality/character
it is the apprehensions fluency based by the process of configurations to a design based on product/witness series noticeboards to note the stats on order to retail agreements on stated series order.
Kay
Evolving
jeddy

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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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