Psychosexual Theory

Sigmund Freud was born 1856 in Moravian town of Freiburg, and was the oldest of 8 children. Freud was a bright child who had planned to study law, instead attending the medical faculty at University of Vienna. He went on to study and find a cure for troubled adults, where the patient talked through their problems of childhood. The goal of this was to realise emotions that had been trapped in the unconscious mind of the adult. Freud believed that sexual life and early childhood development was a factor in troubled adults in adulthood.

This research leads to Freud’s psychosexual theory. ( Thurschwell, 2000).

Freud composed the concept that there are three parts that make up personality in the brain. These three parts of personality are Id, Ego and super ego. The Id is the largest portion of the mind and is the only part of personality that is present from birth. ( Berk, 2009). The function of the Id is to satisfy the basic wants and needs.

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Example, eating, sleeping, drinking. This component is essential in infants to ensure their needs and wants are met. A baby will continuously cry until the demands of the Id are met. However the wants and demands of the Id are not realistic or needed, this is where the Ego takes force.

The Ego develops in early infancy and its job is to control and satisfy the Ids impulses so they are realistic in the real world. Between the ages of 3-6 years, the Superego develops. The superego holds what’s right and wrong in, morals and rules that have been learnt from parents and society.

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To have a good personality structure one most have a good balance between the Id, ego and superego. Id, ego and superego become integrated into Freud’s theory of psychosexual theory. (Louw, 2002).

Freud constructed his theory called “Psychosexual theory, which emphasizes that how parents manage their child’s sexual and aggressive drives in the first few years is crucial for healthy personality development.” ( Berk, 2009, pg. 16). Psychosexual theory consisted of 5 stages of development. Oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital. Oral stage occurs between birth- 1 year in this stage the focus is on the mouth and sucking activities. If the oral needs for sucking are not meet in this stage it could lead to later problems in life, such as thumb sucking, smoking and over eating. Anal stage 1-3 years, toilet training takes place between parent and child.

This stage is where children first have an encounter with rules. If to many or to few demands in this stage are made it could lead to orderliness, messiness and disorders in later life. Phallic stage 3- 6 years, focus moves to the genital area. Children start to have desires for the opposite sex parent and move away from the same sex parent. Children then have to learn to suppress these feelings and adopt the same sex parent’s characteristics.

If these feelings are not suppressed it could lead to confusion of sexual identity. The superego kicks in, in the phallic stage. Latiency 6-11 years, Children’s sexual instincts aren’t so strong and lean to playing and interacting with same sex. Superego has developed more, morals and social rules are learnt from parents and society. Last stage of development is the Genital stage, which occurs in adolescence, puberty starts to occur and sexual impulses appear again. If a child has developed properly through previous stages it will lead to, marriage, sex and birth. (Louw, 2002).

Freud’s psychosexual theory was one of the first theories to research into the relationship between parent and child in early years. Eventually more researchers researched into Freud’s theory, discovering that all Freud’s research was not accurate. Freud’s work has been criticized for, not taking other cultures into consideration, not studying children directly and over use of sexual feelings in development. Like Piagets theory it is hard to use their ideas in learning and development today in New Zealand, as there is a lot of criticism around their work. Research into child development has expanded over the years and information is more accurate and useful. ( Newman & Newman, 2007).

Freud and Piaget influenced future theorists into more in-depth research in child development. Both Freud and Piaget used the idea of children’s development being discontinuous and in stages. Piaget focused on sexual drive in young children, Piaget focused on children develop as they adapt to their environment. Both theorists have had criticism surrounded their work which makes it hard to relate their theory’s to learning and development in New Zealand today. (Berk, 2009).

Reference List

  1. Berk, L. (2009). Child development ( 8th ed). United States, Pearsons Publishing.
  2. Dennis, C., & Mitterer, O.J. (2006) Introduction to psychology: Gateways to mind and behaviour. United States, Wadsworth Publishing:

Cite this page

Psychosexual Theory. (2017, Sep 05). Retrieved from

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