Stages of Freud's Psychosexual Development

Stages of Freud's Psychosexual Development

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Freud's Psycho Stages

The Psychosexual Development Theory It was proposed by the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, which described how personality develops throughout childhood. It is one of the best known theories of psychology, although it is also one of the most controversial.


  • 1 On what is Freud's Psychosexual theory based
  • 2 The oral phase
  • 3 The anal phase
  • 4 The phallic phase
  • 5 Latency Period
  • 6 The genital phase

What is Freud's Psychosexual theory based on?

Freud believed that personality developed through a series of stages in childhood in which the energies or impulses that seek the pleasure of Identification focus on certain erogenous zones. This psychosexual energy, or libido, described it as the driving force behind behavior.

The psychoanalytic theory It suggests that personality is generally established at the age of five, that early experiences play an important role in personality development and continue to influence behavior later in life.

For Freud, childhood is a crucial stage in which our personality and behavior as adults are shaped. He considered development as a discontinuous process, he believed that each of us must go through a series of stages during childhood, the so-called psychosexual stages.

If these psychosexual stages are completed successfully, the result is a healthy personality. If, due to a problem, they are not resolved in due course, the so-called “fixations” appear. A fixation is a persistent focus in a previous psychosexual stage. Until this conflict is resolved, the individual will remain "stuck" at this stage. For example, a person who is fixed in the oral phase may be too dependent on others and may seek oral stimulation through smoking, drinking or eating.

According to Freud, the impulses of pleasure that children look for (and that are governed by It) focus on a different area of ​​the body, called an erogenous zone, in each of the Five stages of development: oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital.

Oral phase

Age: from 0 to 1 year

Erogenous zone: mouth

During the oral phase, food-related activities such as sucking and chewing are the most important.

The main interaction source of the baby is done through the mouth, which is of vital importance for feeding, but also the child through it gets pleasure thanks to satisfactory activities such as tasting and sucking. Because the baby is totally dependent on the caregivers (who are responsible for their feeding), the baby also develops a sense of confidence and comfort through this oral stimulation.

The main conflict at this stage is the weaning process: The child becomes less dependent on their caregivers and loses the perks they obtained with the suction. If the fixation occurs at this stage, Freud believed that the individual would have problems with dependence or aggression. Oral fixation can cause problems with drinking, food or the need to smoke.

The anal phase

Age: from 1 to 3 years old

Erogenous zone: the sphincters

During the anal stage, Freud He believed that the main objective of the libido was to achieve control of bowel and bladder movements. The important conflict at this stage is sphincter control: The child has to learn to control his bodily needs. The development of this control leads to a sense of achievement and independence.

According to Freud, success at this stage depends on the way parents approach sphincters. Parents who use praise and reward for using the toilet at the appropriate time, foster positive results and help children feel capable and productive. Freud believed that Positive experiences during this stage set the stage for people to become competent, productive and creative adults..

However, not all parents provide the support and encouragement that children need during this stage. Some parents punish, ridicule or even embarrass a child when he has accidents.

For him inadequate parental responses can lead to negative results. If parents take a too lenient approach at this stage, a personality could develop anal-expulsive, which translates into a disorderly, wasteful and destructive adult person. If the parents are too strict or begin sphincter control too soon, a personality is generated anal-retentive, which translates into an individual too rigid, orderly and obsessive.

The phallic phase

Age: from 3 to 6 years old

Erogenous zone: Genitals

During the phallic stage, the main focus of the libido focuses on the genitals. At this age children begin to discover the differences between men and women.

Freud believed that children begin to see their parents as a rival for the mother's affection. The Oedipus complex describe these feelings of wanting to possess the mother and the desire to replace the father. However, the child also fears that he will be punished by the father for these feelings, Freud called this fear the castration anguish.

The term Electra complex It has been used to describe these same feelings experienced by girls. Freud, however, believed that girls on the other hand experience the penis envy.

Over time, the male child begins to identify the same-sex father as a means to indirectly possess the mother. For girls, however, Freud believed that penis envy is never fully resolved and that all women still have a fixation at this stage. Psychologists like Karen Horney disagreed with this theory, which he described as inaccurate and degrading for women. Instead, Horney proposed that men experience feelings of inferiority because they cannot give birth to children, a concept called the belly envy.

Latency period

Ages: 6 to 12 years

Erogenous zone: none (inactive sexual feelings)

During the latency period the interests of the libido are temporarily suppressed. The development of ego and superego They contribute to this period of calm. The stage begins around the time children enter school and care more about peer relationships, games and other interests.

The latency period is a exploration time in which sexual energy is still present, but is directed towards other areas, such as intellectual activities and social interactions. This stage is important in the development of social skills and of communication and self-confidence.

Genital phase

Ages: 12 years until death

Erogenous Zone: the genitals (maturation of sexual interests)

During the final stage of psychosexual development, the individual develops a strong interest in sex and sexual relations. This stage begins at puberty, but it lasts the rest of a person's life.

In the early stages described by Freud, attention focused solely on individual needs. At this stage, interest in the welfare of others grows at last. If the other stages have been completed successfully, the individual must now be well balanced, warm, and caring. The objective of this stage is to establish a balance between the various areas of life.

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