The psychology of the human mind is complex, and many theories exist to offer an explanation to how it develops. In the history of psychology there have been many which contributed to these findings such as Lawrence Kohlberg, Sigmund Freud, and Jean Piaget. It was Freud who gave his unique view on development with his Theory of Psychosexual Development.
The theorist behind the psychosexual theory was Austrian neurologist, Sigmund Freud.(https://www.biography.com/people/sigmund-freud-9302400) The beginning of his profession was greatly influenced by his friend Josef Breuer who was both a physician and physiologist. In the following years, Freud expanded his knowledge of the brain and eventually returned to his hometown to help patients with brain disorders. After publishing many books which ranged from explaining personality to interpreting dreams, he published the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. The release of this book in 1905 received much controversy, as it theorized a connection between sexual drive in infants and the development of their psychology (Bradford, 2016).
Basis of Theory
The theory which Freud invented is coined the psychosexual theory and is based on the sexual pleasure and motivation one seeks at a young age. There are several stages in which an individual encounters conflicts and must overcome them to progress to the following stage. It is likely that if they do not move onto the next stage they either got either too little or too much pleasure from that stage. This can lead to fixation which “refers to the theoretical notion that a portion of the individual’s libido has been permanently ‘invested’ in a particular stage of his development”(McLeod, 2017). The concept of libido in relation to personality is important to grasp, so that one can better understand the stages of psychosexual development. Freud describes three elements of personality which each have their own unique aspects and are constantly at war with one another. In this theory, personality is divided between the id, ego, and superego. The most basic of these is the id, which functions solely in the unconscious mind and relates back to primitive instincts. It is known that the id represents the primitive and pleasure seeking part of personality; therefore, the libido is primarily present in infants because they seek immediate gratification. The psychosexual theory follows the libido as it moves throughout parts of the body in different stages.
Stages of Development
In Freud’s work he theorizes 5 stages of psychosexual development all of which have their unique characteristics. The first stage is focused on oral stimulation which is centered around actions such as sucking and swallowing. This is commonly present during the first year of the infant’s life. The following stage is centered on anal pleasure as the child either releases or holds in feces. In this second stage of psychosexual development, children ages 1 to 3, typically
The third stage of psychosexual development, the phallic stage, is centralized around the genitals and occurs roughly between the ages of 3 and 6. During this stage children become more aware and feel a variety of things such as envy, competitiveness, and fear. It is in this phallic stage that Freud theorized the Oedipus complex, which is arguably the most important part of the third stage of psychosexual development. The Oedipal complex denotes a sexual attraction that one feels towards their opposite sex parent, and their desire to replace the parent of the same sex or repress their feelings. In the young male, the fear of his father finding about this sexual attraction towards his mother leads to castration anxiety. In the female, she develops a penis envy, but it is soon replaced with the desire of a baby. The sexual desire of both male and female children is then resolved when children imitate the behavior of their parent of the same sex in what is known as identification. The phallic stage is followed directly by the latency stage and it is in this stage that psychosexual development stops. In short, the latency stage occurs from 6 to the age of puberty and is characterized by a repression of sexual energy that is diverted to social interactions.