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Stages of Psychosexual Development

A Summary Chart

According to Sigmund Freud, personality develops through a series of stages in which the the energies of the id are focused on certain erogenous areas. This psychosexual energy, or libido, was described as the driving force behind behavior.

The summary chart below offers a brief overview of these stages of psychosexual development, the approximate age levels for each stage and the primary conflict confronted at each stage.

Stage Age Characteristics
Oral Stage Birth to 1 year An infant's primary interaction with the world is through the mouth. The mouth is vital for eating, and the infant derives pleasure from oral stimulation through gratifying activities such as tasting and sucking. If this need is not met, the child may develop an oral fixation later in life, examples of which include thumb-sucking, smoking, fingernail biting and overeating.
Anal Stage 1 to 3 years Freud believed that the primary focus of the libido was on controlling bladder and bowel movements. Toilet training is a primary issue with children and parents. Too much pressure can result in an excessive need for order or cleanliness later in life, while too little pressure from parents can lead to messy or destructive behavior later in life.
Phallic Stage 3 to 6 years Freud suggested that the primary focus of the id's energy is on the genitals. According to Freud, boy's experience an Oedipal Complex and girl's experience and Electra Complex, or an attraction to the opposite sex parent. To cope with this conflict, children adopt the values and characteristics of the same-sex parent, thus forming the superego.
Latent Stage 6 to 11 years During this stage, the superego continues to develop while the id's energies are suppressed. Children develop social skills, values and relationships with peers and adults outside of the family.
Genital Stage 11 to 18 years The onset of puberty causes the libido to become active once again. During this stage, people develop a strong interest in the opposite. If development has been successful to this point, the individual will continue to develop into a well-balanced person.

Related Resources:

Sigmund Freud
Time Magazine featured Sigmund Freud as one of their 100 most important people of the 20th century. Learn more about his life, career, and contributions to psychology.

The Id, Ego and Superego
Learn more about Freud's structural model of personality.

Learn more about the influential school of psychological thought that Freud established.

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