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Phases of affective-sexual development

According to Freud, all the tension of the human being is due to the accumulation of libido (sexual energy) and all the pleasure comes from its discharge, therefore, he himself proposed within his psychoanalytic theories, a theory that shows the psychosexual or affective development- sexuality of individuals.

Within infantile sexuality there are three prevailing erogenous zones , and therefore three pre-genital phases . Freud uses the term phase because it is much more flexible and  lax than talking about the period or stage of affective-sexual development. Each phase has great dynamism and plasticity. The characteristics of each of these phases are part of the personality of the adult subject. The characteristics that we see in the phases in some way differentiate us as people and  endow us with personality traits .

While we can affirm that one phase does not end and another begins, which has to do with the concept of fixation and regression .

Fixation and regression concept

Regression is a normal defense mechanism that defends the psyche against anxiety. This mechanism goes hand in hand with fixation, since fixation will determine which stage to return to and as long as the conflict that caused fixation is not resolved, the subject will remain stagnant in that stage. 

According to Freud, when we are born we have a certain amount of libido, which is like an army that is left behind in each phase. If certain problems are not resolved in the proper stage, fixations occur. The sexual energy released in each phase also has to do with fixation, which can be caused by excessive satisfaction, frustration or an interplay of both . We are going to have a certain amount of libido set in each phase , therefore it is expected that each phase is not spent more than normal, which ensures an adequate transit through infantile sexuality and subsequent genital phase.

Regression is a movement towards the past, but also progressive , since the subject who returns is never in the same place he was . The charge of the libido that is fixed has to do with the outside. The first experiences that the child has mark the fixation load of the libido , therefore for a fixation current the experiences have to be more or less balanced, where a stage passed is seen as a terrain where the person leaves. to handle better.

Stages of sexual affective development

Affective-sexual development is made up of 5 different stages -3 phases and 2 periods-, which are directly related.

Phase ora l : 0 to 18 months

In the oral stage, the main source of satisfaction for the baby is through the mouth, so the sucking reflex is especially important at this stage. The mouth is considered an essential element for survival, the sucking reflex is what allows the baby to feed and begin to discover the world with his sense of taste. In the oral stage, the baby gets the pleasure of oral stimulation through satisfying activities, such as tasting and sucking.

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Anal phase : 18 months to 3 years

The anal phase is mainly based on toilet training. For Freud the main conflict in this stage is the training to start going to the bathroom and learning to control their bodily needs. Parents play a fundamental role in this phase, because depending on their teaching and training, the achievements will be seen. When the child manages to control his sphincters, he feels that he has achieved a goal and feels satisfied with his achievement, which leads to greater independence and capacity for self – confidence .

Phallic phase: 3 to 6 years

According to psychoanalytic theory, in this phase is when the child begins to form his personality -usually from 5 years old. At this stage the “I” begins to take control over the child’s mind. Not everything is impulsive and instinctive anymore. The child begins to understand that there is a world around him and must measure his actions according to that world.

According to Freud, early experiences in earlier stages play an extremely important role in personality development.

The main focus of libido in the phallic phase is the genitalia. From the age of three, children begin to discover the differences between genders. It is in this phase that the Oedipus complex and Electra complex arise . In these two complexes, children enter into an internal conflict where they are attracted to their father of the opposite sex, taking the other parent as their rival.

Latency period: 6 to 12 years

After the three phases have elapsed, the latency period that corresponds to the school period occurs, from six to twelve years. It is a period and not a phase because it does not have a guiding erogenous zone and therefore neither fixation nor regression are generated.

During the latency period the “superego” continues to develop rapidly; the “I” stands between the “id” and the “superego” to try to achieve a middle point, where needs can be satisfied taking into account the social context. This is when children develop social skills, values ​​and learn to relate to people who are outside the family environment.

In the latency period, sexual energy is still present, but it is directed to other areas of interest, for example: the sexual energy of children at the school level can be channeled into intellectual areas or social areas.

Puberty: from 12 years old

Puberty is the beginning of genital sexuality. In this period the libido begins to reactivate again and the sexual energy that had been derived to other areas in the latency period, returns to focus on the genitals, now with the intention of satisfying their sexual need.

If the previous stages of psychosexual development have been successfully developed, the objective of this stage will be to establish a balance between the various areas of the individual’s life.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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