Freud’s Psychosexual Stage Theory
The most famous figure of Psychology is also one of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the last century. Sigmund Freud’s work and theories helped shape our views of childhood, personality, sexuality and therapy. Freud’s Psychosexual theory describes how personality develops over the course of childhood. According to this theory, children go through a series of psychosexual stages that lead to the development of adult personality.
This theory suggests that personality is mostly established by the age of five. The early experiences of life play a significant role in personality development and continue to influence behaviour later in life. Freud believed that there are five psychosexual stages, which are the oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital stages.
1. The Oral Stage (0-1 year old)
During this stage, the child derives pleasure from oral activities such as sucking and tasting. Successful fulfilment of the infant’s feeding needs along with proper weaning may result in the establishment of trust between the child and its caretakers. Too much, or too little gratification can bring about oral fixation for the adult individual, represented by a preoccupation with oral activities like drinking alcohol, smoking, or overeating.
2. The Anal Stage (1-3 years old)
The main source of gratification at this stage is the ability to control bladder movement and the elimination or retention of feces. If a positive experience is given to the child around toilet training, it can encourage competence, creativity and productivity in individuals. Otherwise, anal fixations can translate to an obsession with perfection and cleanliness or the opposite that is messiness and disorganization in adulthood.
3. The Phallic Stage (3-6 years old)
In this stage, the focus of pleasure is the genitals. Boys start to perceive their fathers as competitors for their mother’s affection while girls feel similarly toward their mother. In addition, the fear of punishment can lead to repression of feelings felt toward the opposite sex parent. Fixation at this stage may bring about sexual deviancy.
4. The Latency Period (6 years to puberty)
Now the sexual urges are repressed and the individual spends most of his time interacting with same sex peers, acquiring new skills and engaging in hobbies.
5. The Genital Stage (puberty onward)
At this stage, the focus is on the sexual urges that are reawakened and are directed toward the opposite sex peers, with genitals as the primary source of pleasure for the individual. Those who completed the earlier stages successfully become well-adjusted, caring and secure individuals.