PSYC 5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Human Sexual Activity, Castration Anxiety, Oedipus Complex
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Psychological Aspects of Human Sexuality
● Psychoanalytic theory
o Freud proposed that sexuality and eroticism are fundamental forces of life. He developed
a theory of personality, the stages of psychosexual development with their corresponding
erogenous zones, the Oedipus complex and the role of the unconscious to explain human
o 3 personalities: ID, Ego, and Super-Ego
o Corresponding erogenous zones: Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latent, and Genital.
o Oedipus complex: during the phallic stage, boys fall in love with their mother and see
their father as a rival. Castration anxiety.
o Electra complex: girl falls in love with her father and sees her mother as a rival. Penis
o The Oedipus complex gets resolved when the children adopt the appropriate gender
roles. If it is not resolve it can lead to homosexuality, gender confusion, sexual disorders,
fetishes, and/or repression.
▪ Male homosexuality happens when a boy identifies with his mother instead of his
▪ The fetish object becomes a reassurance of masculinity.
o According to this theory, erectile dysfunction is caused by castration anxiety.
o Criticism: focus on sexual motivation and the unconscious in determining behaviour;
difficult to validate scientifically (not falsifiable nor universal); sexist.
o New science: neuro-psychoanalysis.
▪ Finding of activity occurring in cerebral cortex that could be indication of
● Learning theories
o This perspective explains how human sexual behaviour is learned and shaped through
various intrapersonal and interpersonal learning paradigms such as classical
conditioning, operant conditioning, behavioural modification and social learning.
o Classical conditioning – takes place when a conditioned stimulus is paired with an
original unconditioned stimulus.
▪ Smelling a perfume on someone during a good sexual experience and then
getting aroused by the perfume.
o Operant conditioning – means a person is more likely to repeat a behaviour if it is
rewarded (reinforcement). Sex is a shaped behaviour AND is a primary reinforce.
o Behavioural modification – techniques used to change an individual’s behaviour based
on classical and operant conditioning principles.
▪ Sexual behaviour can be reinforced or punished. For example, a woman who
experiences pain during intercourse.
o Social learning – based on operant conditioning, imitation and identification.