Freud’s Developmental Theory: Freud and the Psychosexual Stages
•Libido: The energy that drives the psychological machine. It is energy like any
energy cannot be created, or destroyed. It can only be redirected and shunted
from one purpose to another, from one mechanism to another. He was
fashioning a view of the human mind as being mechanical and being driven by
energy (libido). Freud believed that the human mind was a psychic system which
operated on the basis of energy (libido). It reflects the influence of the physical
•He saw the libido as being the energy that emerges from human
instincts. This reflects the influence of Darwin on his thinking. Much of the
energy that drives human behavior is instinctual in origin. He originally thought
that there a two types of instincts: instincts relevant to survival and instincts
relevant to sex and survival. He later put the two together and said that there
was one set of instincts that are life preserving in nature and the energy they
generate is called as libido.
LIBIDO: Any life-sustaining need satisfying/pleasure oriented urge.
•In his later career he referred to libido as “Eros”-life instinct – that energy that
drives you towards life preserving action.
•Thanatos – death instinct. Complementary concept that refers to the urges
we have to destroy, to harm, or to aggress against others or oneself.
•Adler challenged the idea that everything could be reduced to libidinal urges
(life-preserving urges). Adler believed that there is an instinct towards
•Critically Freud believed that there was a developmental sequence that
occurred; where the libido became organized and centered around a particular
biological area/fxn. It’s the nature of human organismic development. As we
develop from infancy to adulthood, the libido comes online and gets organized
around particular areas of the body.
•Libidinal organization- the organization of the libido around a particular
biological organ/fxn. The bodily source of libido is referred to as EROGENOUS
ZONE (root: eros/libido)
•As we develop from early infancy to puberty there is this sequence of stages
that occurs the organization of the libido and at each stage, there is a particular
developmental challenge that is being undertaken that requires resolution.
•The First of these stages of libidinal organization occurs in the first year and
a half of life - birth -18 months of age. The libido is organized around the mouth,
lips and tongue, hence it is known as the oral stage.
•The libido is present from birth.
•During the Oral stage, infants take great pleasure from being fed, and they
also learn that non-nutrient substitutes can be accepted. Infants can suck their
thumbs, etc. and they learn that that can be a great source of pleasure as well
•Over the course of the 18 months, infants begin to teeth. They begin to learn
that they can chew their food and also swallow it. This demarcates the first of
many stages during which the organism becomes much more active in its
approach to the environment, and it’s seeking need-gratification from the
•During this time, the central issue is trust, and the extent to which the infant
can trust or rely on its caregiver to supply the nutrients it needs. The caregiver is
the most important thing in the infants world.
•At this stage of development there is only one personality structure in place
which is the ID.
•ID : the reservoir of the libido. It is the only structure of personality that
is present from birth.
•The libido migrates after 18 months. As the infants proceed towards toddler
hood, the infants begin to discover that they can take some pleasure from
expelling their bowels, and also take some pleasure from retaining their feces.
This stage is known as the anal stage.
•This is the stage when toddlers have one of their more serious conflicts with
their parents. This is the time when the parents try to toilet train their children.
The toilet training represents a metaphoric battle – it’s the competition of wills.
It’s the willfulness of the child to say that they want to go to the bathroom when
ever they feel, and it’s the willfulness of the parents to say that they will go to the
bathroom at this location and certain designated times.
•If the infant proceeds properly through this stage, they realize that the proper
regulation of your own impulses, the proper regulation of your own biological
urges can solicit approval from others. By learning to manage your own intestinal
activity you can at least win your mother’s gratitude.
•By regulating ones own biological processes/other processes we can win
approval from significant others (specifically parents and society.
•During this stage of willful self development, autonomy and self mastery play
critical roles. This is where you see a 2nd personality of structure emerge – the
structure of EGO.
•The Phallic Stage: During ages 3-5 children begin to explore their genitals,
and start to realize that touching themselves is a great source of pleasure.
•Freud: As children are discovering the pleasure that comes from
manipulating their genitals, new protosexual feelings arise.
•Children are looking towards an object to direct the new found pleasurable
feelings. Freud’s hypothesis was that the default settings was to attach those
feelings towards the opposite sex parent. As children begin to discover their
biological capacities for pleasure, they look to their parents as objects to whom
they could direct their feelings.
•Idea: Little boys fall in love with their moms, and little girls fall in love with
•Boys then become resentful/angry/hateful towards their dad because they
feel jealous of the relationship that the father has with the mother.
•Feeling of anger, hate, jealousy, rage, and hurtful impulses are felt. The boy
also has strong feelings of affection for their father.
•There are these mixed ambivalent feelings of affection vs, anger and
frustration towards the father. The child at this age (3-5 age), has no deep
understanding that their own thoughts, and urges and wishes are not transparent
to other people. Boys at this age are having all of these hateful angry,