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FREUD’S PSYCHOSEXUAL THEORY OF PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT According to Freud’s psychosexual theory, nearly all children pass through five stages of psychosexual development in the following order: oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, latency stage and genital stage. These stages involve seeking pleasure from specific parts of the body called erogenous zones. Ideally, the child should pass smoothly through these stages. However, what often happens is that the child experiences problems or excessive gratification at one or other of the stages. When this happens, it leads to fixation, in which basic energy or libido remains attached to that stage into adulthood. Fixation makes the individual vulnerable in later life. When adults are exposed to difficult and stressful conditions, they may show regression, in which their behaviour becomes less mature and more like the behaviour they displayed as children. Adults are especially likely to regress to a psychosexual stage at which they fixated as children. ORAL STAGE The oral stage is the first stage, lasting for approximately the first 18 months of the child’s life. During this stage, the young child derives considerable satisfaction from activities involving his mouth, lips and tongue (characterised by sucking). Later, as babies become more aggressive, they derive their pleasure from biting and chewing. Fixation at this stage may result from very rapid or delayed weaning. Someone whose personality is fixated at the early oral stage might be excessively passive, unusually dependent on others, and very trusting (oral receptive character). Becoming aggressive and dominating adults, “biting” sarcasm or compulsive talking can be a sign of fixation at the later phase of the oral stage (oral aggressive character). Other oral stage fixation activities include habits such as smoking and excessive eating. ANAL STAGE The
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