Psychosexual Development Theory and Child’s Personality

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In this essay I am going to examine the age group of children 0-5 and how the psychological experience can impact on their transitions, during their life span. To achieve this task, I am going to analyze different theories in relation to all holistic aspects of life. These developmental theories are still used today and has made way for other theories in the future, which describe what happens when these stages in life go wrong. The first theory I am going to analyse is the psychosexual development theory. This suggests child development happened in a series of stages spurred on by sexual drive in, this impacts on a child’s personality; mainly occurring in an unconscious state. 

In a blog by Shimla suggests that ‘personality development begins from conception and goes on till death’ and that ‘It is just like a planted seed, passes through various stages before we identify it as a fully grown, flowering tree’. So, a child would have to pass through different stages at different times in their childhood before they become an adult. The theory states personality of a person is predominately established by the age of 5. Within this theory is the introduction of the Id, Ego and Super ego. Psychology Notes HQ reports the Id is present at birth and ‘requires constant fulfilment, without regard for consequences or realities. The Ego develops by the age of 3 and ‘it arises from the Id’ and serves ‘as a negotiator that strives for a compromise’. The Super ego develops at the age of 5 ‘arises from the Ego’ and ‘judges what we should morally do or not do’. 

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Conflict within these can lead to anxiety, depression and psychological disorders. This however does not consider free will. Maynen reports ‘all mental disorders, ranging from insanity to less extreme forms of psychological disorder, have some detrimental effect on free will and responsibility’. These 5 stages are oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital. In this theory Freud proposes that some of the issues that a child might have in life if stuck at these stages are: smoking, incontinence, penis and womb envy and relationship problems. However, I am examining the age group 0-5 so at this age some of the health problems would be anorexia, binge eating or phobias of food due to issues at the weaning stage. 

Being disorganised or too organised which could lead to a child developing OCD or anxiety or sleep issues. Being doubly incontinence due to parents being too strict or not strict enough while toilet training could lead a child to develop a urine or kidney infection. They also develop the Oedipus and Electra complex at this age (penis and womb envy) this would lead to issues with a boy wanting the mother to himself and girl wanting to procreate with her father. Freud states this is where the super ego develops which stops them wanting this. Wortham suggests that ‘Freud tells us that the dread inspired in the ego by the super-ego is the fear of conscience’. These would last until it is resolved or continue later in life always having an issue with the ailments that have arisen. 

A child could have cognitive behaviour therapy or counselling to try and combat these issues. There are many physical ailments that could come from these ‘fixations’ some of these are diabetes if the wrong food choices are made, vitamin deficiencies and low or high blood pressure. This theory has been used for many years and has come from studies by a reputable theorist. There have been many studies to back this theory and that children who have traumas in childhood do go on and have problems later in life. Freud analysed a child and made a case study to strengthen his theory. Little Hans was a young boy who developed a phobia and Freud linked it back to the Oedipus complex. 

However, Blum reports ‘Little Hans was written before many of Freud's major theoretical advances, for example, anxiety in response to danger, dual drives, structural theory, and non-defense ego functions’. It has also come under scrutiny by other theorists as it suggests due to it being a conflict of the mind there is nothing a person can do to avoid the issue that has developed. Another important criticism of this theory is that no scientific data supports any of the stages and that this theory is outdated. It also doesn’t consider biological approach, medication or mental illnesses like ADHD or autism which would have an impact on passing through these stages and their outcome. It also didn’t conduct a large-scale study. 

The Hierarchy of Needs theory agrees that a person needs to complete all the stages; as described within the hierarchy triangle and no stage must be skipped, however it examines different factors like physiological needs which the psychosexual theory does not as in nature and nurture. It states that the bottom tiers in the triangle are made up of basic needs like hunger and rest. The next psychological needs like friends and feeling of accomplishment, then the top tier is self-actualisation. Maslow stated that every person has the potential to move up to the top of the hierarchy triangle but that external factors would stop people accomplishing this like a parent, divorce or homelessness in 0-5’s.

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