Sigmund Freud: The Father of Psychoanalysis Essay

Sigmund Freud; or the Father of psychoanalysis, became extremely well known when he began to make connections between psychological problems and sexual issues. Freud started off his educational journey in Vienna studying medicine, and later chose neurology as his specialty. He developed the basis of many theories from the work he did with mental patients. The theories that he developed were influential to many individuals as well as extremely controversial among the members of society. His theory of personality development was focused around sexual pleasure, and the effects that it had on the individual.

He believed that at specific points throughout the process of development, parts of the body would experience sensitivity to sexual stimulation. Freud called the sensitive parts ‘erogenous zones’, which are comprised of the mouth, anus, and genital area. As a child graduates through the stages, it is very important for them to resolve the development issues that came to attention in the previous stage. There are certain needs and demands that coincide with each stage of development and if these are not met, the child will risk becoming frustrated.

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Frustration could result in fixation “(the arresting of part of the libido at an immature stage, causing an obsessive attachment)”[1] on a certain stage. Fixation in a specific stage will affect the child’s personality in adulthood as well as dominate it. There are five stages that Freud developed to assist others in understanding his psychosexual theory. The first stage, known as the ‘oral stage’, begins at birth. Throughout the oral stage the infant predominately nurses; Freud views this as children pleasuring themselves by putting things in their mouths.

The conflict of this stage is weaning, which in other terms is managing with something that someone has become dependant on. The child passing through this stage will become dependent of nursing, as well as being mothered. The length that Freud estimated for this stage was zero to two years. Following the oral stage is the ‘anal stage’; this stage has to do with the child’s new obsession with the erogenous zone (anus). Following toilet training, the child becomes fantasized with the discharge of feces. Conflict is met in this stage between both the parents’ burden on he child, and the child’s desires along with physical potential. The child will do one of two things in this case; “put up a fight or simply refuse to go. ”[2] A child who puts up a fight on this matter will insist on excreting spitefully, either going right before being placed on the toilet or directly after. If the parents are too lax on this topic, their child will soon develop a sense of ‘anal expulsive character’. A child who simply refuses to go would develop a sense of ‘anal retentive character’. Complete opposite traits are developed when a child chooses to act in one of the two ways in regards to toilet training.

Proper toilet training for a child determines what type of attitude they will have towards authority when they are older. This stage was estimated to last from the age of two up until the age of four. The third stage is known as the Phallic Stage, which entails the most vital sexual conflict throughout Freud’s representation of development. The genital region is considered to be the child’s erogenous zone in this stage. Conflict begins to arise when the child becomes more concerned with not only their own genitals, but those of others.

The specific conflict in this stage is known as the ‘Oedipus complex’, which is “when the child becomes infatuated with the opposite-sex parent, and they try to eliminate the same-sexed parent. ”[3] Freud hypothesized that fixation in this stage could be a result of homosexuality. The next stage is known as the ‘latency period’, which is a period in which the sexual drive remains inactive. During this stage, Freud stated that kids partake in asexual quests; school, sports, same-sex friendships. Soon enough, puberty comes into the picture and the children once again become infatuated with genitals.

The last stage of Freud’s psychosexual theory is known as the ‘genital stage’, where the relationships turn into heterosexual (opposite-sex) ones. A child will develop normal relationships with the opposite sex if they resolved everything throughout the psychosexual development. If they still have plenty of unresolved conflict, their relationships will be filled with many struggles. Through the development of the psychosexual stages, Freud was able to develop the structural theory, which is made up of what he thought to be the three parts of the human psyche.

Freud’s theory of personality structure includes three parts; the id, the ego, and the super-ego. The id has to do with the drives that people have, and majority of these drives are for pleasure. The id relates to three stages of the psychosexual theory; oral, phallic, and genital, due to the fact that each of these stages relates to personal pleasure. Any human instinct would be classified under the id, because it is regulated by the ‘pleasure principle’. The id is unconscious, so the most beneficial way to study it would be through the study of dreams.

The ego is often seen as the negotiator between both the id, and superego. The ego is frequently described as being the psyche’s realistic part, because it is in touch with reality. The ego wants a person to get the most satisfaction from the world as possible, and this is known as the ‘reality process. ’ In order to successfully graduate through Freud’s psychosexual stages, a reality process is demanded from each individual. The ego is the only one out of the three with a conscious mind, as it works to please the drives of the id.

The last part of the structure of personality is the super-ego, which is an accumulation of all the ethical lessons a person has learned throughout their life. It is known as the inner voice of authority, and many of the moral lessons that a person has in their super-ego were learned from their parents. The super-ego relates to the anal stage of Freud’s psychosexual theory because the concept of toilet training in that specific stage will have an effect on how they treat authority as adults.

The super-ego could actually relate to all stages of Freud’s theory, because there is a direct lesson learnt in all five stages from our parents. The super-ego is partially conscious and partially unconscious; this is where everyone has insight on what their ultimate person is. Freud’s theories are extremely unique, and have been the basis of many theories to date. I believe that his theories encompass a great amount of truth, and although they were controversial they were correct.

I agree with him when he states that we have different parts that control our behaviour, but on the other hand there is one thing that I do not fully agree with. I believe that he overemphasized the position that sex has in our motives; however it does make sense why he would put such an emphasis on it. As we can see throughout evolution reproduction is needed for us to survive, and this is probably his reasoning behind the role of sexual motives. In conclusion, I believe that Sigmund Freud was a very intelligent man, and his theories from the 1890’s have helped others to develop theories in the modern day.