Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development- and Its Relevance Today


Psychology, Social & Youth development,

Freud’s psychosexual stages of development profoundly transform the perspectives of people. It altogether uncovers the initial diversity and potentialities of human nature. The idea of Freud’s psychosexual stages of development is based on the belief that parents play an active role in their children’s sexual and aggressive drives. This crucial role is played by parents during the formation years of their children’s life to foster their proper development.

Freud’s psychosexual development expresses in terms of stages defined by the specific expression of sexual, or libidinal, urges. Those areas of the body are the erogenous zone (erotic zones). These zones give rise to libidinal (erotic) pleasure at specific ages and are the focus of each developmental stage.

What are Id, Ego, and Superego?

  • Id stands for an instinct that a person might have. it lies in the unconscious part of an individual’s psyche that contains the impulses and urges. Including the sexual urge to be met.
  • Ego stands as Freud clearly showcases this idea in one sentence: “The crucial point of the whole situation ( or illness) is the relative strength or weakness of the ego”. The ego is fed by energies coming from the instincts of the id. Hence it is part of id that moulds due to the interaction with the outside world.
  • Superego is a part of the unconscious that is the voice of conscience (doing what is right) and the source of self-criticism. The superego’s function is to control the id’s impulses, especially those that society forbids, such as sex and aggression.
Freud's Psychosexual Development concept
Freud’s Psychosexual Development concept of Id, Ego, and Superego
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The Five Stages of Freud’s Psychosexual Development

Freud’s Psychosexual Development theory states that the personality and existence of a person are built round tension and pleasure. As per Freud, this tension that a person undergoes is due to the build-up of libido. Which is also known as sexual energy, and all the pleasure comes from its release.

Freud's Psychosexual Development Stages
Freud’s Psychosexual Development Stages
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1. Oral Stage 

In the first stage of Freud’s psychosexual development, the libido is centres in a baby’s mouth. During the oral stages, the baby gets much satisfaction from putting all sorts of things in its mouth to satisfy the libido, and thus its id demands. 

2. Anal Stage 

During the anal stage of psychosexual development, the libido becomes focused on the anus, and the child derives great pleasure from defecating.  The child is now fully aware that they are a person in their own right and that their wishes can bring them into conflict with the demands of the outside world (i.e., their ego is developing). 

3. Phallic Stage 

The phallic stage is the third stage of Freud’s psychosexual development, spanning the ages of three to six years, wherein the infant’s libido centers upon the genitalia as the erogenous zone.

The child becomes aware of anatomical sex differences, which sets in motion the conflict between erotic attraction, resentment, rivalry, jealousy, and fear which as per Freud is the Oedipus complex (in boys) and the Electra Complex (in girls). 

4. Latency Stage 

The latency stage is the fourth stage of psychosexual development, spanning the period of six years to puberty. During this stage the libido is dormant and no further psychosexual development takes place. Latent signifies the aspect that is hidden.

As per Freud, most sexual impulses are put down during the latent stage, and sexual energy can be put in the direction towards school work, hobbies, and friendships. 

5. Genital Stage 

The genital stage is the last stage of Freud’s psychosexual theory of personality development and begins in puberty.  It is a time of adolescent sexual experimentation, the successful resolution of which is settling down in a loving one-to-one relationship with another person in their twenties.

Sexual instinct directs to heterosexual pleasure, rather than self-pleasure like during the phallic stage. For Freud, the proper outlet of the sexual instinct in adults is through heterosexual intercourse.  Fixation and conflict may prevent this with the consequence that sexual perversions may develop. 


The word “fixation” was coined by Sigmund Freud. According to Freud, children develop through a series of psychosexual stages. Fixation is hence a persistent focus of the Id’s pleasure-seeking energies at an early stage. A fixation can occur when there is an obsessive drive that may or may not is acted on involving an object, concept, or person. Hence, oral, anal, and phallic fixations occur when an issue or conflict in a psychosexual stage remains unresolved. Fixation leaves the child focused on a stage and unable to move onto the next.

Relevance of Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development Today

Delving deep into the psyche of Psychosexual Development
Delving deep into the psyche of humans
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In today’s world, we see young children and adolescents facing a series of mental changes especially when they undergo physical development. Young children while developing their personality internalize what they experience and what they observe.

They in a way try to find psychological flexibility and understand their sexual orientation. Therefore, Freud’s psychosexual stages of development is a systematic method to understand one’s sexual orientation in the present world.

In outlining the personality development of a human as part of Freud’s psychosexual development, Freud’s theory carries forward the idea of what develops is the way in which the sexual energy of the id accumulates and discharges as we mature biologically.


Freud’s ideas about the structure of the human mind continue to inspire. Freud’s psychosexual development theory and ideas in addition ascribe chaos to the human psyche. His theory, that is, in the idea that the sexual development of human beings was the primary force in the development of all behaviors. Consequently, leading to the understanding and forming of one’s individual personality.


Tags: Personality Development, Psychology, youth, Youth Development,

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