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Sexual affective development

When Freud begins to speak of infantile sexuality, he refers to affective-sexual development , one of the most controversial theories of psychoanalysis , which generated a great revolution in scientific thought of the time.

Theory of affective-sexual development according to psychoanalysis

Freud handles the idea of sexuality not as genital but in a broad sense , including not only sexual discharge but also affective-emotional aspects , generating a broader and more innovative conception of relational life, linking subjects, also including the concept of libido . Libido is sexual energy that moves in each moment of life in a different way .

Establish a first topic , which will then be changed to a second topic . In the clichés he speaks of psychic places ; in the first they are: conscious-pre conscious-unconscious and in the second: it-me-super-me . It should be noted that there is no linear correspondence from one topic to another, but rather that they are two different formulations, in different times of Freud’s work, but the implication model of the psychic functioning of the libido moved by the drive falls on both  .

When Freud describes the concept of drive he differentiates it from that of instinct . The drive, as Freud himself says, rides between the biological and the psychic , that is, it has a driving force that has to do with the organic but goes beyond that. The instinct would be reserved fundamentally for the other animal species, because in the human being in addition to the biological and physiological need, desire appears , another register that cannot be inscribed in the biological body.

The difference between need and desire is very early . When the baby is born, the first thing that appears is the need to feed, but when that need is satisfied it leaves the first traces in memory and it is to what the individual will refer their experiences throughout life. The first experiences of the baby are of pleasure-displeasure and when the need is satisfied we begin to speak of desire .

So the drive, although it has a biological aspect in its appearance, detaches itself from that and points to the affective. The source of the drive is a state of tension and the end is the pleasure that is consigned with the load. For Freud, sexual energy runs through all instances, it will unfold from one side to the other. The drive is what moves the libido, it is a push, a force. The place where arousal occurs is a state of tension, an  erogenous zone , which can be any area of ​​skin or mucous lining that can be aroused, that is, any part of the body can be an erogenous zone.

With regard to child sexuality, he says that there are certain privileged areas, so that any part of the body can be an erogenous zone is not so. The erogenous zones that correspond to each moment of infantile sexuality are supported by a physiological function. There are three predominant erogenous zones: the mouth, the anus and the external genitalia . The mouth relies on the physiological function of nutrition, the anus on excretion, defecation, and the external genitalia in urine. This is the notion of propping , that is, that each erogenous zone relies on a biological function. In turn, each of those moments that occur around an area corresponds to  a libidinal phase.

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Libidinal phases of affective-sexual development

Within the affective-sexual development we can find three phases, which we will detail below:

Oral phase

All interest, needs, and desires are concentrated in the mouth, lips, and the inner lining of the mouth.

The oral phase goes from birth to 18 months, in this phase the baby focuses on oral pleasures -mainly sucking-. The baby during the oral stage is pure instinct and tries to satisfy his needs in any way. For Freud , if this phase was interrupted abruptly, for example, premature weaning or the inability to explore the world through the mouth, it could generate certain behavioral problems in the future. The father of psychoanalysis suggested that if this stage was not completed satisfactorily, a fixation would be created in it and over the years, the child or adult would return through the defense mechanism of regression to stagnate in it.

According to the theory of sexual affective development, fixation on the oral stage can lead to a greater tendency in adulthood to smoke, drink alcohol, overeat , bite nails and present greater emotional dependence .

Anal phase

The erogenous zone that attracts attention is the anus and the mucosa of the digestive system .

The anal phase ranges from 18 months (when the oral phase ends) to three years. In this phase, the goal of pleasure is toilet training. When the child manages to control his bladder and bowel movements, he feels that he has achieved a great goal. This gives them greater emotional security and independence.

At this stage of affective-sexual development, proper parental intervention is very important, since the child’s time must be respected and not forced or made to feel bad when something does not go well. An early intervention can generate pressure, insecurity and anguish in the child for not being able to achieve that goal, in that case a fixation can be created in this phase, which can later result in obsessive , perfectionist or disorganized people, emotionally insecure and controllers.

Phallic phase

This stage runs from three to six years (in some cases it may take longer to start). The pleasure zone in this phase is centered on the genitals. The focus is on the man’s penis and the woman’s clitoris .

According to Freud, the child at this stage of sexual affective development develops unconscious sexual desires with his father of the opposite sex, which he called the ” Oedipus complex and Electra complex.” In both complexes there is a feeling of attraction and excessive love for their parent of the opposite sex and a rejection and rivalry for the parent of the same sex. Along with the Oedipus complex, the castration complex is produced in the boy, an unconscious fear that his father figure will take away his masculinity in order to eliminate the threat they pose to the attention of their mothers.

For more information about the phases and periods of affective-sexual development, we recommend reading our article, phases of affective-sexual development .

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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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