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Do you feel “stuck” with who you are? Are you fixated on certain things, such as smoking or drinking? Has your childhood influenced who you are?

Psychosexual development relates to the mental, emotional and behavioural factors of sexual activity. Sigmund Freud believed a person’s childhood experiences could shape their adult personality. According to him, a person had to complete all the psychosexual stages to have a healthy personality.

The rest of this article will cover how a psychosexual develops, as well as what it might mean for your relationship.

How does a psychosexual develop?

Psychosexual development is categorised by five stages. This can start as soon as we’re born and can span our entire life.

  1. Oral – first year of birth (erogenous zone: mouth)
  2. Anal – 1-3 years old (erogenous zone: bowel and bladder control)
  3. Phallic – 3-6 years old (erogenous zone: genitals)
  4. Latent – 6-years old to puberty (libido inactive)
  5. Genital – puberty to death (maturing sexual interests)

Freud deduced that a person’s personality developed through these stages, where the pleasure-seeking part of our brain focuses on certain erogenous zones. Each stage represents a phase that can either facilitate growth or hinder development.

When a person thus finishes a psychosexual stage successfully, they can expect a healthy personality.

But if they fail to resolve issues a certain stage, they can gain a “fixation”. This means that they remain “stuck” until the conflict is resolved.

These fixations, or failures to resolve a certain stage, can manifest into:

  1. Oral – Issues with dependency or aggression. Symptoms can include drinking, overeating, smoking, or nail-biting.
  2. Anal – A messy or destructive personality as a result of parents’ lenient behaviour with toilet training. Or a rigid and obsessive personality due to strict parents.
  3. Phallic – The Oedipus complex or womb envy.
  4. Latent – Inability to form fulfilling relationships as an adult.
  5. Genital – Inability to balance urges with societal norms

What does psychosexual mean?

Now that we know about the psychosexual stages and fixations, we can cover what this means for a relationship.

Should a person complete the first four psychosexual stages, they can expect to be a well-balanced person. This is because they can balance their urges in the genital stage. This means that they’re more likely to develop relationships with others that are healthy and stable.

However, if a person never progresses to the next stage or exhibits remnants of unresolved issues, this can prevent a person from reaching a “healthy” personality. This can hinder any relationships they might have with other people. They might find it difficult to have long-lasting or mature relationships.

Psychosexual development can shed light on how a person comes to develop their personality. While Freud’s theory has since remained controversial, psychologists can agree that it does hold to the importance of childhood events.


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