Psychosexual development

         We can confidently say that the psychoanalytic approach is a theory in psychology that tried to explain everything. This theory did not stop at the point of pathologies mainly because Freud tried to make psychoanalysis an approach for everyday's life. And of course since it was like that it was crucial for Freud to talk about the stages of development or according to him the stages of psychosexual development.         

We are not interested to talk here about the psychoanalytic approach since this is something that we have already done. Today we are going to discuss the stages of development according to Freud.

      The libido and sexuality played an important role in Freud's theory so it is no surprise that the stages of development according to Freud are marked by sexuality. However as usual Freud did not stop at the point of describing these stages, actually he went further and he attached each stage with a certain problem in behavior we have as adults. Hence Each stage reflect a certain pathological behavior the adult develops if he did not pass that stage successfully. Freud distinguished between five stages of psychosexual development and these stages are: oral, anal, phallic, latency and the genital stage.

        The oral stage marks the first year of development. In this stage the libidinal energy is centered in the mouth. Hence satisfaction is obtained through sucking. For example in this stage you can see that the child tend to always put everything in his mouth. Another interesting example is when the child starts screaming for food if he does not receive an immediate response after a while he starts sucking his thumb to comfort himself and achieve satisfaction. If a person stay fixed in this stage this can lead him to develop excessive dependency behavior.


        The age from one to three years old is marked by another stage which is the anal stage. During this stage toilet training occurs, so the libido here is centered on the anus and satisfaction is gained through the elimination and retention of waste. Fixation in this stage lead the adult to develop a behavior that is characterized by excessive orderliness or excessive messiness.     

The stage that comes after that is the phallic stage, and it lasts from three to five years old. Actually this is an important stage and what makes this stage so important are the conflicts that are resolved in it. Even if you have never came across psychology we are sure that you have heard about Oedipus complex and electra complex and if you have never heard these terms before this is the time to know them. While Oedipus conflict is for male children electra conflict is for females. Freud came up with this concept by studying himself, he found out that he had a huge amount of love for his mother and jealousy for his father. And actually the term Oedipus did not come from vain, Freud actually took it from the story of Oedipe. You know that man who killed his father and married his mother. Anyway let us go back to the complex. According to Freud at this stage of development the child envies his father's relationship with his mother and also fears to be castrated at his father's hand. So he wishes to eliminate his father to have his mother for himself, but he feels guilty about his wishes. If this crisis is passed successfully the child will deal with his guilt feelings by identifying with his father and establishing his sexual identity. And in order for the child to do that he should sublimate his libidinal energy into something socially accepted. This idea may sound very messed up but if you ask a child at this age who does he want to marry when he grows up he would say his mother. While Freud talked a lot about Oedipus complex he did not talk much about electra complex. But in the electra complex he thinks that girls have penis envy instead of castration fear which makes them stay more connected to there father in order to fill their lack of penis and on the other hand they stay away from their mother because like them they also do not have a penis. Another thing to add is that girls according to Freud are expected to be less sex typed and less morally developed.

          After this stage the libidinal energy is sublimated in a stage called latency. Children at this stage can play with each other without having any sexual desires to one another.

 The last stage according to Freud is the genital stage. This stage begins at puberty and last through adulthood. And according to Freud if the other stages are passed successfully the person will have a normal heterosexual relationship in this sathe.


         Freud's theory has been discussed a lot. The only thing to keep in mind is that maybe he had some ideas that are wrong but his theory have ideas that have been developed later and are still used until this day and one of the most important names in this context is Erikson and his theory of psychosocial development that has benn based on Freuds work.

See Also:

Piaget's theory of cognitive development

Psychosocial development