Freudian Psychosexual Stages
According to Freud, our libido (pleasure drive) grows in stages since infancy.
If, for some reason, we are prevented from fulfilling these stages of psychosexual development as children, we grow up having various problems in adulthood.
The oral stage of development is said to occur between the ages of 0-1 years. In this phase, the baby’s main source of pleasure and stimulation occurs with the mouth, and in particular, breastfeeding. Disruptions in this stage (e.g. not gaining access to the mother’s breast, emotional instability of the mother or family, punishment for biting and chewing things, etc.) can lead to issues in later life.
- There are two types of Oral personalities:
- The Oral receptive personality. This type of person tends to relieve their tension, stress and anxiety through oral outlets such as smoking, drinking, chewing gum, eating, and so forth. Oral receptives are generally seen as sensitive, needy and passive people.
- The Oral aggressive personality. This type of person uses verbal aggression (insults, put-downs, etc.) when under stress and pressure.
The anal stage of development is said to occur between the ages of 1-3 years. In this phase, the child’s main source of pleasure and stimulation occurs during toilet training and learning to correctly expel faeces and urine. However, if this stage of psychosexual development is disrupted (often due to constant punishment of not “using the toilet properly” or toilet training too early), issues can develop in later life.
There are two types of Anal personalities:
- The Anal retentive personality. This type of person tends to be stingy, perfectionistic, orderly and stubborn.
- The Anal expulsive personality. This type of person is the direct opposite of the Anal retentive type, and tends to be messy, impulsive and generally careless.
The phallic stage of development is said to occur between the ages of 3 to 6 years. In this phase, the child’s own genital organs become a source of pleasure and stimulation (masturbation) as they begin to become self-aware. Freud also proposed the controversial idea that in this stage a lot of conflict and jealousy occurs between children and their parents. In particular, it is said that male children begin to desire their mothers, wanting to possess them exclusively (called the “Oedipus Complex”), resenting their fathers. Because of the male child’s fear of his father finding out and taking away what he loves (his penis – also known as “castration anxiety”), he resigns himself to imitating and copying his father’s behaviors.
On the other hand, Freud proposed that girls in this stage start off being attached to their mothers, but once they realize they have no penis, they begin to desire their fathers (known as the “Electra Complex”), and thus develop something known as “penis envy.” Later, the girl resigns herself to imitating the mother’s behaviors.
The latent stage of development is said to occur between the ages of 6 to puberty. In this phase, the child’s libido is hidden or “latent.” Most of the child’s energy is said to be channeled into learning new skills, as well as different hobbies and activities that come with starting school. In this stage the child makes friends mostly with members of his or her own gender, which is said to be a defense mechanism for dealing with the libido.
People in the latent stage of psychosexual development tend to:
- Have a hard time understanding or relating to the opposite gender.
- Have an underlying fear of sex and believe it to be “weird” or “gross.”
- Are intimidated by the opposite gender.
- Stick to their own kind (own gender).
- Have an inactive or very low sex drive.
The genital stage of development occurs between the ages of puberty to death. This is said to be the most matured form of psychosexual development, and is where our libido is directed towards others outside of ourselves and the members of our family. In this stage we seek for caring, stable relationships with others, and the main form of libido release comes through sexual intercourse.
If a child has fulfilled each prior psychosexual stage, a well-balanced adult is formed. If, however, the child has developed any kind of complex, sexual perversion may result in this stage.