1: Introduction to Development, Personality, and Stage Theories
2: Motor and Cognitive Development
Section 3: Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
Section 4: Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development
5: Freud's Structural and Topographical Model
6: Freud's Ego Defense Mechanisms
7: Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development
Freud’s Stages of
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is probably the
most well known theorist when it comes to the development of personality. Freud’s
Stages of Psychosexual Development are, like other stage theories,
completed in a predetermined sequence and can result in either successful
completion or a healthy personality or can result in failure, leading to an
unhealthy personality. This theory is probably the most well known as well
as the most controversial, as Freud believed that we develop through stages
based upon a particular erogenous zone. During each stage, an unsuccessful
completion means that a child becomes fixated on that particular erogenous
zone and either over– or under-indulges once he or she becomes an adult.
Oral Stage (Birth to 18 months). During the oral
stage, the child if focused on oral pleasures (sucking). Too much or too
little gratification can result in an Oral Fixation or Oral Personality
which is evidenced by a preoccupation with oral activities. This type of
personality may have a stronger tendency to smoke, drink alcohol, over eat,
or bite his or her nails. Personality wise, these individuals may become
overly dependent upon others, gullible, and perpetual followers. On the
other hand, they may also fight these urges and develop pessimism and
aggression toward others.
Anal Stage (18 months to three years). The
child’s focus of pleasure in this stage is on eliminating and retaining
feces. Through society’s pressure, mainly via parents, the child has to
learn to control anal stimulation. In terms of personality, after effects of
an anal fixation during this stage can result in an obsession with
cleanliness, perfection, and control (anal retentive). On the opposite end
of the spectrum, they may become messy and disorganized (anal expulsive).
Phallic Stage (ages three to six). The pleasure
zone switches to the genitals. Freud believed that during this stage boy
develop unconscious sexual desires for their mother. Because of this, he
becomes rivals with his father and sees him as competition for the
mother’s affection. During this time, boys also develop a fear that their
father will punish them for these feelings, such as by castrating them. This
group of feelings is known as Oedipus Complex ( after the Greek Mythology
figure who accidentally killed his father and married his mother).
Later it was added that girls go through a
similar situation, developing unconscious sexual attraction to their father.
Although Freud Strongly disagreed with this, it has been termed the Electra
Complex by more recent psychoanalysts.
According to Freud, out of fear of castration
and due to the strong competition of his father, boys eventually decide to
identify with him rather than fight him. By identifying with his father, the
boy develops masculine characteristics and identifies himself as a male, and
represses his sexual feelings toward his mother. A fixation at this stage
could result in sexual deviancies (both overindulging and avoidance) and
weak or confused sexual identity according to psychoanalysts.
Latency Stage (age six to puberty). It’s during
this stage that sexual urges remain repressed and children interact and play
mostly with same sex peers.
Genital Stage (puberty on). The final stage of
psychosexual development begins at the start of puberty when sexual urges
are once again awakened. Through the lessons learned during the previous
stages, adolescents direct their sexual urges onto opposite sex peers, with
the primary focus of pleasure is the genitals.