OF mental health care and mentally ill
Freud’s three psychosexual stages of development
Classical psychoanalytic theory provides an account of the development of the
structure of the mind (that is, the id, ego and super-ego) and of infant
developments through a series of psychosexual stages over the first five years of
life. In Sigmund Freud’s (1922) original drive theory, the development of relationships to others (object relations) is motivated by the need for tension
reduction and the infant is pictured as having little awareness or capacity to
interact with his carer or social environment.
Freud describes three psychosexual stages of development:
Oral stage (birth–18 months)—tension and hunger motivate interaction with
the world and the mother is the source of gratification and the first love object.
Anal stage (18–36 months)—the infant is involved in a series of struggles for
autonomy and experiences conflicts over aggression and dependency.
Phallic/Genital stage (3 years)—this is the period of oedipal development with
the emergence of sexual attachment towards the opposite sex parent. This stage
culminates in the development of the super-ego.
Psychoanalytic theories of object relations describe the way in which early
relationship experiences influence the development of the sense of self or
identity. The infant needs a sensitive caregiver to begin the process of identity
development. This process is sometimes referred to as separation-individuation
and occurs during the toddler period (Mahler et al., 1975).
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