Psychology / Freud’S Psychosexual Stages Of Development In Relation To Gender Development

Freud’S Psychosexual Stages Of Development In Relation To Gender Development

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Autor:  anton  21 November 2010
Tags:  Freuds,  Psychosexual,  Stages,  Development,  Relation,  Gender
Words: 921   |   Pages: 4
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Describe Freud’s psychosexual stages of development in relation to gender development

“Few of the findings of psychoanalysis have met with such universal contradiction or have aroused such an outburst of indignation as the assertion that the sexual function starts at the beginning of life and reveals its presence by important signs even in childhood. And yet no other findings of analysis can be demonstrated so easily and so completely” – Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud believed that all children were curious about sex and their own origins – this caused outrage in Victorian society. He believed that all children followed five stages of development, not moving forward to the next one until the previous one was completed. His theory was that our personality traits in later life, e.g. smoking, could be traced back to the first five years of life through either insufficient or excess gratification. As the five stages of development unfold the child takes pleasure and gratification from different parts of its body.

The Oral Stage - Birth to two years

The nerve endings in the mouth and lips are highly sensitive and the baby gains pleasure from sucking for its own sake rather than for nourishment. The baby does this to explore its environment. At birth sucking is the only major oral activity, however once the baby has teeth biting and chewing become the main sources of pleasure.

The first conflict in a child’s life is during the weaning process during which the child has to learn to become less dependant on its care givers. Freud’s theory was that if fixation occurs at this stage the child would grow to be dependant or aggressive and that oral fixation can result in problems such as smoking, over-eating etc.

The Anal Stage – 2 to 4 years

During this stage Freud believed that the main source of pleasure was on controlling the bladder and bowel. The child during this stage has its first experience of restrictions on its wish to empty the bowels wherever and whenever it pleases – potty training. Developing the control of the bowel and bladder leads to a feeling of independence and success.

Freud believed that the way parents approached the subject of potty training determined its success. He believed that positive rewards and praise for using the potty correctly helps the child feel capable. He believed that success at this stage resulted in competent, productive and creative adults.

However if a parent was not so supportive during this stage (i.e. punishment or ridicule for accidents) he believed this would have a negative outcome which could result in one of two personality traits: if parents were too lenient this would result in the anal-expulsive person who would be messy, wasteful and destructive, or alternatively if the parent was too strict or begin toilet training too early this would result in the anal-retentive person who would be orderly, obsessive and rigid.

The Phallic Stage – 4 to 6 years

“It is the fate of all of us, perhaps to direct our first sexual impulses towards our mother and our first hatred and murderous wish against our father. Our dreams convince us that this is so.” – Sigmund Freud.

The theory that sells psychology books - boys want to have sex with their mother and kill their father!

At this stage the main focus of the libido is on the genitals. At this age children also discover the differences between males and females. Freud’s most famous theory was the Odepius Complex. This is the theory that boys begin to view their father’s as a rival for their mother’s affections and the boy wishes to possess their mother and replace their father. At the same time the child worries that he will be punished for these feelings by hi father – the punishment being castration. Freud termed this �castration anxiety’.

In relation to girls Freud referred to their similar set of feelings for their father as the Electra Complex. He believed that girls suffered from �penis envy’.

Towards the later part of this stage children begin to identify with the same sex parent rather than see them as a rival. They can �possess’ the opposite sex parent through them. In both sexes the sexual feelings towards the parent of the opposite sex are repressed during the latency stage and when they re-emerge at the genital stage they are displaced to an appropriate member of the opposite sex.

Freud theorised however that women never resolved their penis envy and they would become fixated on this stage. This has been disputed by modern psychologists as inaccurate and demeaning to women. The psychologist Karen Horney proposed that men actually feel inferior because they cannot give birth to children!

The Latency Stage – 6 to puberty

At this age the sexual preoccupation of the earlier stages are repressed. The child’s energy is then put into developing new skills and new knowledge. The child enters school and become more concerned with friendships, hobbies and other interests. This stage is important for the development of social and communication skills and self confidence.

The Genital Stage – puberty to adulthood

Latency is the calm before the storm of adolescence! The individual develops a strong sexual interest in the opposite sex. Rather than the focus being solely on their individual needs they start to consider the welfare of others during this stage. If all other stages have been completed successfully the individual should be well-balanced, warm and caring.



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