Freud’s Psychosexual Stages

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1 March 2016

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The theory of psychosexual development describes how personality develops throughout our childhood and our experiences during childhood. This theory was developed by Freud, and is well known to the world of psychology. Even though it is well known it is also considered one of the most controversial theories. Freud developed this theory in which there are five different stages.

Stage one is considered the oral stage. This stage starts at the birth of the child and ends when the child turns one. During this stage the infant gets the majority of their interactions through their mouth. The rooting and sucking reflexes are very important during this stage because their mouths are vital for eating. Most if not all infants derive pleasure from oral stimulation through gratifying activities such as tasting and sucking. During this stage the child develops a sense of trust and comfort because the caretaker/parents are responsible for feedings. The primary conflict during this stage is trying to wean the child off because the child has to become less dependent of the caretaker/parent.

Stage two is the anal stage. This stage begins when the child turns one and ends once the child is three years old. Freud believes that during this stage the primary focus of the libido is to learn to control bladder and bowel movements. The major conflict of this stage is toilet training because he child must learn to control his/her bodily needs. Once the child has developed such control they get a sense of accomplishment and independence. But, success at this stage is dependent upon the parents approach to potty training and this stage is more successful when praises and rewards are given.

Stage three s the phallic stage and the erogenous zone is the genital. This stage begins once the child turns three and ends once the child turns six years old. During the phallic stage the libidos primary focus is the genitals. It’s at this age that children begin to discover the difference between males and females. Freud believes that boys, in this stage, begin to view their father as a rival for their mother’s affection. The Oedipus complex describes the feelings that Freud says the boys go through during this stage. These boys also fear they will be punished by their fathers so Freud termed this fear castration anxiety.

Stage four is considered the laten period. This stage occurs from the age six to puberty. During this stage the interest of the libido are suppressed. The development of the child’s ego and superego contribute to this period of calm. This stage begins just around the time that children are starting school and are becoming more concerned with peer relationships, hobbies, and other interests. This stage is very important to the development of social, communication skills, and self confidence.

Stage five of the psychosexual development theory is the genital stage. The erogenous zone of this stage is maturing sexual interest. This is the final stage of psychosexual s=development, and during this stage the individual develops a strong sexual interest in the opposite sex. This stage will only end once someone dies. During this stage the interest and welfare of others grows. The goal of this stage is to establish a balance between various areas of life.

After studying this theory, I now see why it is one of the most controversial theories. This theory places much of its focus on males an very rarely mentions the development of females. Freud’s theories can also be very difficult to test; for example, concepts that Freud uses such as the libido cannot be tested and are impossible to measure. New research being done often discredits Freud’s work. Freud’s predictions are also very vague, and is based upon case studies about adult patients and their recollections of their childhood not actual observation and study of children.

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"Freud’s Psychosexual Stages" StudyScroll, 1 March 2016,

StudyScroll. (2016). Freud’s Psychosexual Stages [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4 June, 2023]

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"Freud’s Psychosexual Stages" StudyScroll, Mar 1, 2016.

"Freud’s Psychosexual Stages" StudyScroll, 1-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 4-Jun-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Freud’s Psychosexual Stages. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4-Jun-2023]

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