This month’s feature on The Lectern is Dr Sigmund Freud’s theory of how all of your adult life can be traced to an unconscious sexual unraveling that happened in your wee years. I knew when I first heard it narrated – and I am more certain now – that this is a theory you want to learn of. So it was a great joy for me when Olamide finally sent that golden ping my way.
A few of you might have heard just a little of, or maybe even know all about Freud and his theory of psychosexual development. Regardless though, you want to read it the way she has dropped it at ‘The Lectern’ today. What I find most interesting is that a lot of the scenarios described here are laden with acts we see – and overlook – everyday. A lot of us did these things as kids, many of us still do them, and even more of our children are doing them…and all of these add up to our adult identities? *shudder*
At worst, I hope this amuses you and at best, demystifies all of your life’s hidden crevices. My two-cents though, find some way to straddle the line…
I also hope this is the cue for a fantastic November for all of us.
that we might be read
THE FREUDIAN THEORY OF PSYCHOSEXUAL DEVELOPMENT.
Do you suck on your thumb unconsciously? Or twist your hair or bite your nails? Are you known as the guy or lady who has the hots for ‘hot’ arguments? Have you ever wondered why you behave ‘strangely’ or have certain mannerisms which for the life of you, you could never explain?
Many times when faced with questions like these, we worry and wonder and ponder. But very shortly, you will be those no more. These behaviors – behavioral disorders – are not spiritual attacks like is oft diagnosed; many of them are explainable and – this is where it gets interesting – are firmly rooted in our sexuality, a mystery which is unraveled in the Theory of Psychosexual development posited by famous psychoanalyst, Dr. Sigmund Freud.
Before I go further, you should know this: every child is born with no knowledge of the outside world – tabula rasa. His behaviour or personality is based on experiences lived through from the early stage of life through several stages of development till age of awareness. It is this extensive stage of development that Freud divides into five:
- The oral stage which starts from birth to age one-year.
- The anal stage which starts from age one to three years
- The phallic stage which starts from age three to age five years
- The latency stage which starts from age five to about eleven years
- The genital stage which is the adolescent age upwards, usually from about eleven years upwards
At this stage, the first sexual zone for the child is the mouth. This is the stage were the child derives maximum pleasure from using the mouth; when he is suckling at his mother’s breast, you will see that he has his legs up and bouncing in the air or twisting his hair due to the satisfaction, the sexual satisfaction being derived from the act. At this stage, occurrences like overfeeding or frustration of the child’s feeding will most likely lead the child to mature into an adult with affinity for some oral activities like smoking, kissing, gluttony, alcoholism, nail biting, thumb sucking, gum chewing, e.t.c. Frustration could also lead the child to develop an oral aggressive personality characterized by aggressive behaviours, arguments and exploitation.
A child could become fixated at this stage. Fixation simply put, means that a subject’s psychosexual development from one stage to another has been arrested. Usually for a child, this leads to either a surge or a lack of gratification manifesting as traits of gullibility, passiveness, etc in the child.
The erogenous zone at this stage is the anus. The child at this stage enjoys the process of fecal elimination. He is taught management of his bowel movement by toilet training. Very significantly, he expresses his approval or disapproval over the amount of gratification allowed him at this stage by stooling excessively or too rarely for comfort.
Certain anal personality traits will arise as the child matures, hinging on the severity or lack thereof, of his toilet training. If he deserves pleasure in retention of feaces, he is said to possess anal retentive (holding-on) personality, the characteristics of which are obstinacy, defiance, stinginess, excessive orderliness and compulsive cleanliness. If the child on the other hand, enjoys expelling his waste, his is called a repulsive (letting go) personality. The characteristics of such a personality include disorderliness and destructiveness, also generosity, conceit, propitiation and ambition.
The phallic stage starts about age 3 and ends at age 5 or 6. This is when the child develops pleasurable sensation from stimulating his or her genital organs. The child is said to have increased sexual intrest in parents of the opposite sex, as he or she is physically attracted to them. A conflict is hereby generated. The other parent – of the same sex as the child – is at the roots of this inner struggle, because the child fears punitive measures that can be taken against him or her.
This brand of conflict is referred to as Oedipus complex (after the greek mythology where a son, Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother). The male child notes that females have no Phallus and consequently is afraid that his father may castrate him so that he loses the object that makes him resemble the father. To resolve this conflict, the child identifies with his father; the boy copies his father’s words, postures and mannerisms, he takes on his father’s values, goals and arrogates to himself the qualities he sees in his father. The male child starts developing conscience with this identification so that sometimes we hear little boys say “you know daddy, I am like you – we are men”.
Electra complex is the female counterpart of Oedipus complex. The girl in this case admires and loves her father and thus enters into competition with her mother over him. According to Freud, another reason for this conflict the child brews with her mother is that the little girl feels that her mother deprived her of a phallus. Eventually, the girl child undergoes a process of reluctant identification with the mother, which Freud says, is gradual and uncompleted.
The period between age 5 and 6, and ages 11 to 13 is regarded as latency period by Sigmung Freud. According to him, there is no significant psychosexual development at this stage. Consequently, the period (which is really not a stage) is regarded as latent.
The adolescent stage starts at puberty which marks the beginning of the last stage in Freud’s theory of psychosexual development. At the beginning of the genital stage, there is a reappearance of sexual energies; and those conflicts which were not resolved in earlier psychosexual stages tend to reappear. This is one of the reason why the adolescent stage is regarded by Freud as a stage of stress and strain.
The genital stage culminates in mature normal heterosexual relationship.
Olamide is a student of Psychology who loves children, teaching, singing and baking.
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