Psychosexual Development Summary Chart

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Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud in his office in Vienna, Austria circa 1937. Image: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Sigmund Freud’s theory of psychosexual development is one of the best-known (and perhaps most controversial) theories in psychology. It is also one of the theories most likely to inspire embarrassed giggles when students are discussing it in class. Have you ever heard anyone referred to as having an oral fixation? The term comes directly from Freud’s famous theory.

Learn more about psychosexual development in this handy chart outlining the basic stages, ages, and events in Freud’s theory.

Stage

Age

Major Events

Fixations

Oral Stage

Birth – 18 Months

Libidinal energy is focused on the mouth. Activities such as eating, drinking, and sucking are important.

Oral fixation. Adults who are orally fixated might eat, smoke, or drink to cope with anxiety.

Anal Stage

18 Months – 3 Years

Libidinal energy is focused on the anus. Toilet training is a central event at this stage.

Anal fixation. Anally fixated adults might become obsessive or compulsively neat, or they may become messy and destructive.

Phallic Stage

3 Years – 5 Years

Libidinal energy is focused on the genitals. The Oedipus complex and penis envy commonly occur at this stage.

Phallic fixation. Men fixated at this stage may become overly aggressive or overly passive; women may become flirtatious or seductive.

Latent Period

6 Year – Early Teens

A period of relative calm, as libidinal energies become less active. The ego and superego emerge.

Generally there are no fixations linked to the latent period since it is a time of relatively little psychosexual development.

The Genital Stage

Teens-Adulthood

If previous stages were successful, libidinal energies should remain focused on genitals. Mutually satisfying relationships are central to this stage.

Freud suggested that the genital fixation was actually what people should be striving to achieve. Becoming fixated at this stage means a person is ready for a long-lasting, loving, sexual relationship and to form strong attachments with romantic partners.

Freud's psychosexual theory has been largely criticized and dismissed, although it is still often discussed and studied often as a point of historical interest. Click the following link to learn more about Freud's theory of psychosexual development.

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