Let’s Know About the Psychosexual Stages of Development: Sigmund Freud
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Let’s Know About the Psychosexual Stages of Development: Sigmund Freud

Freud was a practicing neurologist and he formulated his psychosexual theory of development which was based on his analysis of the emotionally disturbed patient’s life histories. Freud had a great interest in dream analysis, hypnosis, and free association as this used to give him the idea of the unconscious motives that his patients have repressed in their course of life. And on the basis of his study and analysis of these motives and the events he concluded that human development is a conflictual process i.e; we human beings are biological creatures and we have some basic sexual and aggressive urges that are needed to be served however the society restrains and dictates these instincts. And according to Freud, the way Parents manage their child’s sexual and aggressive urges in the first few years of development plays a major role in the development of the personality of their child.

Components of Personality

As per Freud, there are three components of Personality:-

1. Id- This is present at birth. It works on an instinctual aspect and its major and one most function is to satisfy inborn biological instincts, and the fulfillment is to be done on an urgent basis.

       Example – When a child is hungry or wet they cry till his/her parent doesn’t feed him/her or clean him/her.

2. Ego This is the conscious and rational component of the personality and it reflects a child’s emerging abilities to learn, perceive and remember, and reason. It works on the reality principle. It looks for realistic ways of fulfilling the instincts. As one’s ego matures they become better at controlling their Instinct and looks for better ways to fulfill their needs.

       For example – When a child is hungry instead of crying the child asks his/her mother for food by saying the word “cookie”.

3. Superego It is the final component of personality. It works on the moral principle. It develops between the age of 3-6 yrs and this is the age when the children take up the moral values of their parents. As the superego emerges there is no need to tell the children what is good or bad. Children now become aware of their actions and feel bad and guilty when they do something unethical. It looks over that the ego finds socially acceptable ways for the ID’s undesirable impulses. It looks over both the aspect of id and ego and then decides what to do and how to do it.

And it is the dynamic balance between these three components that creates a mature, healthy personality a person.

Stages of psychosexual development

Freud used to believe that sex was the most important instinct of a human being as most of the patients that he attended had mental disturbances that somewhere had a cause laying between the childhood sexual conflicts that they had repressed. According to Freud as one’s sex instinct matures, the focus shifts from one part to another body part, and this shift brings on a new stage of development.

He believed that if parents permit too much or too little gratification for the sexual needs of a child then the child would become obsessed with whatever activity was encouraged or discouraged. This would cause the child to fixate on that activity and retain some parts of it throughout his/her course of life.

Psychosexual stages:-

1. Oral stage

Age- Birth to 1 year

Description – In this stage, the center for sexual instincts is the mouth. And the infants derive pleasure from oral activities such as sucking, chewing, and biting. In this stage feeding activities play a very important role.

2. Anal stage

Age- 1 to 3 years

Description – In this stage voluntary urination and defecation are the primary methods of gratifying sexual instincts. Activities like toilet training cause major conflicts between children and parents. The emotional environment that is created by the parents has a lasting effect on the child.

3. Phallic Stage

Age- 3 to 6 years

Description – In this stage pleasure is derived from genital stimulation. Children develop an instinctive desire for the opposite sex parents. It is known as the Oedipus complex for boys and the Electra complex for girls. The anxiety arising from this conflict causes children to internalize the sex role characteristics and moral standards of their same-sex parental vial.

4. Latency Stage

Age- 6 to 11 years

Description – The traumas during the phallic stage causes sexual conflicts to be repressed and sexual urges to be reshaped into the form of school work and vigorous play. The ego and super ego of the child keep on growing as he/she engages more in problem-solving abilities at school and internalizes societal values.

5. Genital Stage

Age- Age 12 onwards

Description – As the child hits puberty there starts reawakening of sexual urges. In this stage, adolescent learns ways to express their sexual urges in an acceptable societal way. If the development of the child is healthy then the sexual instinct is satisfied by marriage and raising children.


In today’s context if we see not many people are in support of Freud’s theory however the major focus of the theory is that the desires that are suppressed during childhood can lead to major effects on our personality in our later stages of life and this somewhere forms the base of much other developmental theory. But Freud’s theory of development has provided to be one of the most important theories in the study of life span development.

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