“Evaluate the Extent to Which Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Development Can Help Us to Understand a Client’s Presenting Issue?”

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In this paper I shall introduce Sigmund Freud’s theories of human development within psychoanalysis and describe how his theory of psychosexual development related to adult neurosis. I shall offer some criticisms of this theory and evaluate how this may aid a present day counsellor in their practice. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) was a Viennese physician who developed his theory of human development by trying to help emotionally troubled adults. He was attempting from the start of his career to formulate a system of psychological therapy and was influenced by the psychological thought of the time and the cultural influences of that era, which were of Victorian moral standards and the presence of war in Europe. Freud’s theories broadly encompassed the issues of life, sex and aggression. The five stages of his psychosexual development theory include the oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital stages, were first published in the “Three Essays on the Theory of sexuality” (Freud 1905). In the first stage of personality development, the libido is centred in a baby's mouth. This Oral stage occurs from birth to about one year and the libido is focussed on either the pleasure oral sucking or the in hurting by biting. An example of this is the reality of breast feeding and the motivation of such behaviour can only be speculated upon. The Freudian interpretation of the oral character can be either of “optimism or pessimism, generosity, moodiness, depression and elation, talkativeness, greed, and the tendency to engage in wishful thinking”. (Rycroft 1995). These characteristics can be seen to occur within the relationship with the mother and the dependence upon her. Whether there is an experience of satisfaction at the breast or frustration with this or in weaning, could be the prototype for desire and satisfaction in the adult. Being fixated at this stage may mean an
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