Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory is a theory on human development that has emphasis on personality development and early childhood experiences viewing adult sexuality as an end product of a complex process of development beginning in childhood involving a variety of body functions particularly, the role of unconscious, instinctual drives. It is a developmental stages beginning from oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital stages. Slee and Shute said that this theory is “Pshychosexual” because each stage is distinct body region apart from others having a specific part in the child’s body which the focus of the child’s pleasure (2003, p.81). They pointed out that the child “has its sexual instints and activities” from beginning and he or she comes into this world with them (Slee and Shute, 2003, p.81). Freud emphasized that after the child has passed all these developmental stages, he begins to realize adult’s normal sexuality.
Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory
Freud said that the Oral Stage, which is from birth to eighteenth month of existence, the child’s pleasure focused on oral pleasures with the mouth, tongue and gums as the instruments. In Freud’s analysis, the baby develops emotional attachment to the person who satisfies the child’s pleasure at this stage which is the mother and other persons at close with him or her. The Oral stage which is also called “cannibalistic stage because according to Michael Jacobs, the sexual activity has not separated yet from feeding (2003, p. 50), which means feeding is dependent on the mother’s breast.
This assumption has great implication in nursing babies who according to many psychologists, a baby who does not experience satisfaction, he later becomes mistrustful or too dependent which he would find it hard to cope up with challenges. As an adult, he could be too dependent or too independent in life.
The Anal Stage which Jacobs called as a ‘sadistic-anal organization. Here, Freud said that children appear to enjoy sexual pleasure in muscular activity generally (Jacobs, p.51). It means that they feel better and derive more pleasure from satisfying it if they had more muscular exercises. Pamela Thurschwell made it clear that the anal pleasure comes for the child from emptying his or her bowels (Thurschwell, p.55). She said that the bowel movement of the child becomes central to his or her growing image because these are issues that occupy the parents as they watch over the child’s growth. (p. 55). She also added that the issues of control, orderliness and neatness later in life can be traced from holding or expulsion of this child’s anal pleasure or bowel movement.
The implication of this theory in the human development of the child is that, a child may learn self-control and obedience if properly taken care of. During this stage, the parents must teach their child proper toilet training, through which a child may develop organization and orderliness because early in life, the child learned to control his urges. Thus, caregivers of children of this stage should teach proper toilet training.
Sigmund Freud described the Phallic Stage as the stage of sexual impulses in the life of a young boy at the age of four or five towards his mother (Slee and Shute, p.83), while the girl of this age has this impulse towards her father, although most of writers gave more attention to boy’s sexual impulses rather than girls primarily because of the oedipal complex among the boys. Freud cited the oedipal complex using a Greek myth about an athlete who killed his father and married his own mother. Freud explained that the child experiences direct competition with his father for his mother’s affection, and to overcome this, he internalize his father’s moral values and develops his own super ego.
Thurschwell gave a more easy-to-understand explanation. She said that in phallic stage, the child becomes aware of his genital as a source of stimulation and begins to explore his own body out of his or her curiosity through masturbation. Thurschwell pointed out that a child can be stimulated by being rubbed with a towel or by everyday occurrences that happens under the normal care of the child (Thurschwell, p. 55).
The Latency Stage on the other hand which normally appears at ages six to twelve years old according to Jeffrey Turner, is a more tranquil period compared to the other stages. It is rather a stage of refinement and the child seeks to develop character traits considered socially acceptable (p. 342). It is during this time that the defense mechanisms develop as they attempt to escape from failure or rejection amid life’s growing expectations and demands. Considering this fact, the child can be trained to be socially and morally acceptable because the driving force in the life of a child at this period is “social acceptance” which means, he or she will do everything in order to be accepted by everybody around him or her. This is actually the best time for parents to discipline the child through telling him or her, what is good and best in the eyes of people. Teaching values has to be taught to children at this stage.
Genital stage is the final stage in the psychosexual theory of Freud which occurred at adolescent period in the life of a person. A child at this stage starts to awaken his consciousness of sexual urges which he directs onto his opposite sex or peer and the primary focus of stimulation is the genital (Turner, p.342). Common experiences of people at this stage are immature emotional interaction which in turn becomes mature later on.
Genital stage is the entire person’s responsibility which means, he or she has to discover how to balance both his emotion and work; because, a child is expected at this stage to develop some realization about life which he or she must merge with his or her urges. Meaning, it is a preparation for anyone’s adulthood. Thus, he or she should learn how to add something constructive to his or her life to make it more meaningful and fulfilling.
The Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory has much implication in nursing children from the time of their birth until they reach puberty period; because, it deals on different stages of human development in terms of Psychosexual and Psychosocial development of a person. Freud explained that a baby at every stage of development must be given satisfaction to avoid fixation later in life, and proper attention to these impulses in order to develop acceptable behavior in adulthood.
In the same way, any person who is involved in childcare must have understanding of this theory because this will give him or her basic knowledge on proper nurturing of the child’s consciousness. Definitely, a person’s personality lies on the foundation that was built during those stages specifically, the satisfaction that a person get in his childhood days. In the same way, untoward behaviors that are learned during these phases of life must be dealt with through the help of specialists.
Jacobs, M. (2003) Sigmund Freud (2nd Edition) London: Sage Publication.
Slee, P. and Shute R. (2003) Text in Developmental Psychology Child Development:
Thinking About Theories. USA: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Thurschwell, P. (2000) Sigmund Freud. London: Routledge
Turner, J.S. (1996) Encyclopaedia of Relationship. USA: Greenwood Press.