PSYCHOSOCIAL STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT
Instinct: not to be taken too seriously, even Freud did not like the term. Postulate
of an active organism - the seeking of stimulation and satisfaction of
requirements for maintenance of life.
Two primary types: Eros & Thanatos (evolutionary)
Thanatos - death (note its necessity for development, for
creativity, for survival of species - mixo
bacteria) normally repressed, may be released in
Note that this was postulated in response to WWI.
If used to explain neurosis (a battle between eros
and thanatos) then the origin of neurosis becomes a
matter of internal conflict, not a conflict between
individual and society.
Eros- love, or self-preservative instincts - love because we are
social animals from birth - our most necessary and important
context is social, and love maintains the bonds - our
attachment relationships. (self-preservative and sexual
instincts are often at odds with each other).
We must have something or somebody to love all the time. If we
cannot direct our libido toward some human being, we direct it
toward some animal or inanimate object, or sublimate it in some
intellectual or social activity. We become attached to
localities, homes, chairs, etc. Where there is no love, there
is no life. Suicides are generally carried out by people who
have no-one or nothing to love.
Self-preservative instincts - hunger, thirst, breathing - maintenance of
vital life processes.
But sexual instincts were the most important - why?
1. empirical evidence - Freud sees the importance of sex in therapy
as the basis for much resistance. This is the result of basic
biological instincts being brought under control by first
society and then by society represented in the individual.
2. developmental significance - it is by means of our attachment
relations that all instincts are satisfied - so sexual are
3. evolutionary significance - species survival is dependant on
individual reproductions in a sense, all that we do is guided
by this end, thought developmental needs differ, and there is
much room for individual variation (easier to see in other
organisms, across life cycle).
(Hunger is also important, but takes on less importance in our modern
civilized world where basic food requirements are met. Would there be a
considerable difference in the psychology of those for whom hunger was a
(All feelings have an origin - an origin in more simpler feelings. What are
The development of sexuality is a long torturous process which can have many
possible outcomes. Doesn't it make sense that such an important thing would have
important development "precursors". Nothing comes from nothing. Why is the topic
so exciting? This feeling had to develop.)
Love and sex are the same thing...as we develop, our "mission" of mating and
procreation becomes more and more important. It has been during Christian times
that the distinction between love and sex has come to be made...the word "love"
is derived from the Sanskrit word for "lust", and in Hebrew it also means lust.
In Spanish we say "te quiero" which means "I want you". With Christianity we have
come to speak of physical or sensual sex as something base and ugly, and love as
sublime and divine.
In modern civilization we learn to conceal, control and repress the sexual
instinct as we grow up - this has to be learned, for the young child has no
qualms about running around naked. We have to delay sexual gratification for
several years after it biologically manifests itself. We have to be taught what
it is about in special classes.
Freud's discussion of development is in large part a discussion of how the sexual
instinct comes to be repressed in western society. There is a basic schema, or a series
of basic issues, which confront most any child growing up in our times. However, no two
pathways of development are exactly the same. Hence he talked about The Instincts and
their Vicissitudes. Our adult personality is a function of how these instincts were
directed in their aims during our development.
Instincts: all have an object (the person from whom sexual attraction emanates) and an
aim (the aim toward which the instinct strives). There are many deviations in reference
to both the object and the aim.
There are strong pressures for normal sexual relations to be the norm (sex within
marriage). However, there are inversions (opposite developments). The most common is
homosexuality. There are also deviations from the normal sexual aim among
The so-called perversions represent either a transgression from the bodily
regions destined for sexual union or a tarrying long at points which are normally
rapidly passed on the way to the sexual aim. Includes masturbation, oral sex
instead of kissing, substitution of some body part for the sexual object (feet,
hair) or some inanimate object (fetishism). Most of these are the result of
having been conditioned to them early in life.
Possible introductory reading: Sullivan - The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry.
Newborn infant lives for immediate gratification of needs (pleasure principle),
little self control. Physiological states are exemplified immediately and there
is very little organization. The infant's relation with the world is
characterized by gratification of needs. The instincts are the physiological
Freud characterized the organization of the instincts as the id ("it"). In
fact, the infant is characterized by a lack of an organized relationship
with the surround.
How does this change? How do the instincts come to be controlled and
In the ways we have seen - by the establishment of a coupling to it's
environment, the continued development of the nervous system -
attention, state control.
Freud talked of this control as the development of the ego ("I"). How does
Infant at birth is polymorphous perverse - then erogenous zones (zones of
pleasurable excitation) emerge, satisfied by pleasurable stimulation.
Child obtains pleasure from all senses - thumb-sucking, touching, looking,
tasting, and smelling are all pleasurable. All of these impulses are gathered
together and directed to the child's own body between the ages of 4 and 5. The
period of narcissism.
The sexuality of the child consists of a number of partial impulses and
components. By partial impulses is meant that the aim of the instinct is local -
to obtain pleasure from stimulation of different parts of the body in and of
themselves. These function normally up to the age of 4 or 5. The first
autoerotic phase of childhood.
Initially autoerotic (self-feedback) state control in the womb. Attention
is curved inward upon itself.
Picture of self feedback
Birth: a forced disruption of this self-attention.
Picture of disruption in attention.
Interactive processes get their start by intervention of the caretaker.
Especially the breast nipple (objects that satisfy are libidinal objects).
The satisfaction of self-preservative instincts forces social relations.
Picture of interactive feedback
An early form of self and
interactive feedback, and
early form of sexual
cathexis (libidinal tie).
Attachment is contingent,
negotiated - not given
instinctually. A need, an
interactive satisfaction of
Establishes two types of feedback
2. object relations
Initially, the infant cannot distinguish between the actual thing
satisfying the need and their representation of the thing. This is called
primary process thinking. So two processes are always present - actual &
Infant differentiates two sources of stimuli, internal and external, and
ego differentiates out of id. Ego is therefore the product of self &
interactive feedback (take away the social, take away the self). The result
is a differentiation of the self and the other. So the "ego" is the "I" in
opposition to the other.
Self-consciousness is contingent, also an achievement.
G. Gallup and chimps:
Animals habituated to a mirror
Lipstick places on forehead
Social isolates exhibit no self-directed behavior
Socially reared chimps do.
1. structural complexity
2. a developmental context of relations with others.
The ego is our interface with reality. It emerges from the impossibility of
immediately gratifying our needs. The ego functions according to the
reality principle. Most organisms may be said to have an ego, although
humans have a more highly developed one. The ego directs the id's energy
(physiological energy) to finding ways to satisfy needs.
The ego deals with reality, and for humans an important part of that
reality is social and cultural life. We also learn rules for behaving in
relations to others - ethics, morality. These rules control our behavior
via a part of the ego that learns the "should do" and "shouldn't do". A
source of guilt and anxiety arises when we violate these controls to bring
us back into line. This is the function of the superego.
The Instincts and Their Vicissitudes
Our development may be characterized by the interplay between the two types
of feedback - self and other.
The theory suggests that there is an economics of energy - there is only so
much energy so we can talk of its investment and distribution.
Libido is the name for attentional energy used for forming relationships.
Object relations: attentional cathexis to others, to objects outside
Narcissistic relations: attentional cathexis to oneself.
e.g. being in love indicates an increase in attentional energy for object
Development is the history of where and how this energy has been directed. It's
historical pattern of investment. This is different for everyone, hence the
vicissitudes of the instincts. We can also discuss it as the history of one's
ties to others.
Two factors are important in this development - physiological development and
At different times in childhood, the child's social relationships occur
within different biological constraints.
Issues During Development (appearance of character traits)
Not stages, but adaptive issues - what can we say of them in general, and how
does each specific case look.
"For Freud, "stages" are unique developmental outcomes and lived
conditions, representing issues which may persist throughout life and which
are contingent upon the varieties of intra-organism and interactive
anaclitic relations representing the vicissitudes of an individual's life
career...For Freud the form of one's developmental condition is bound to
its content, and this amalgamated state is rooted in its developmental
context. the relationship to context is such that the context to which one
is coupled is constitutive of one's form of organization; and requires a
precise analysis of the individual case." (Cassel & Haynes, Difficulties
in the Negotiation of Developmental Issues: Freud and an Ethologic-Analytic
Methodology, pp. 7-8)
Rhythms overlap - some become major and some minor.
Mouth region as a resource, a coherent, sensitive organ complex significant as
initial means of coupling with environment. Child explores with mouth and seeks
stimulation by means of it (sticks things in - incorporation: bites, sucks).
Sexuality at this stage refers to excitation which is connected with the intake
Its importance is overdetermined:
An urgent body tension and need for satisfaction.
A means of coupling to social context and world in general - mother.
Infant comes of associate mother's face with satisfaction of needs.
Differentiation of image and reality. A person outside of himself with whom he is
in love. "He's becoming a person!"
Infant enters human world via love for another. The constant association of
pleasure and satisfaction with a human face.
Institutionalized infants don't make this discovery - remain in primitive
state of need satisfaction. No attraction to outside world.
1. Not important who satisfies needs.
2. Now the Mo's presence is a satisfaction and pleasure in itself
(move toward anti-material love). Begins to acquire personality
of his own - "to be civilized" begins with love.
This love is an exclusive and proprietary love - we see it in separation distress
(8 - 10 months). Presence of other means satisfaction and absence produces
anxiety. Disappearance of other experienced as a loss.
The absence of the loved one is experienced as the loss of a part of one's
self. The loved person gives meaning to existence and intensifies self-
Loss of mother initiates confusion, disorientation; as if he lost his
connection to new found world and newly discovered self-feelings. Becomes
whole again when mother returns.
The first anxiety in relation to the outer world comes when the child first
learns to love. Anxiety is therefore an inevitable consequence of child's
first attachments to loved persons. Anxiety initially occurs when an
emotional disturbance in the mother is induced by the infant - an
unnameable tension, unpredictability, inability to control the situation or
foretell future. The child lacks differentiated alternatives.
At the same time that separation anxiety is so strong, the child becomes
mobile and starts exploring. Thus the child develops the ability to both
seek out the mother when she is absent, and to leave the mother when she is
present. The means for overcoming the anxiety are identical with the means
for producing it.
Introduces personality change. Mastery of motor skills and anxiety as well.
The ability to stand alone. The child does not simply fear falling, but
fears a general loss of support. With a cutting of the moorings to the
mother's body the actual support is replaced with token support - a
The child experiences a solemn and terrible aloneness. This results
in a heightened awareness of self, of being alone - exalting and
terrifying at the same time. Discovery of a solitary self - a
uniqueness and separateness of body and person.
Child acts as if he is quite in love with himself for being so clever.
Issue of oral satisfaction requires resolution in an interactive context.
Modulation of infant state - weaning, redirection of infant seeking stimulation.
The importance of prototypical and symbolic ways of dealing with problems.
What type of resource will it be for the person:
Fixation: we can fix energy on the oral region, either because of unsatisfied
needs as a baby or because it was a particularly useful way of getting what we
Frustration: the child's psychosexual needs are thwarted by the mothering
one and thus fail to be optimally gratified.
Overindulgence: parents provide little or no incentive for the child to
master internal functions and thus instill feelings of dependence and
Both lead to an overinvestment of libido which, depending on its intensity,
would then become manifest in adulthood in the form of residual behaviors
(traits, values, attitudes) associated with the psychosexual stage at which
these experiences occurred.
Oral passive: characteristics that result from either excessive or insufficient
amounts of stimulation - sucking, incorporating, a taking in to oneself - of
people, of rules, oral stimulation, eating, acquiring knowledge or possessions,
gullibility, swallow anything. Associated with cheerfulness and optimism, expects
the world to "mother" him or her, continually seeks approval at the expense of
everything else. Immaturity and excessive dependency.
Oral aggressive or sadistic: arises during later half of first year - biting and
chewing become important means of expressing frustration caused by mother's
absence or by delay of gratification; aggression, destroying by chewing,
spitting - biting sarcasm, argumentative, pessimistic, cynical. Tend to exploit
and dominate others as long as their own needs exist.
These are two ways of interacting with the world that we all use.
(See notes on toilet training)
The physiological development of the anal region is a significant interactive
(social) event. Expulsion of feces removes discomfort and brings relief. Both
elimination and expulsion are pleasurable and these processes are quite important
to the parent.
Two facts overdetermine the importance of this issue:
1. feces are interesting to the child
2. parents focus attention on the production
Issue of toilet training - the first possibility that child has to gain control
over instinctual satisfaction and interactive context. Hence related to later
forms of self-control and mastery.
Again, this is an interactive issue - a negotiation of who is going to
control. Child can control these processes and fight the authority of the
parent by retention or expulsion.
Character analysis: resolution depends on how the mother exerts control
Parental attitude to toilet training is all important. If the parents
emphasize that this is "dirty, messy, bad", child concludes that products
of the body are bad.
Strict and repressive technique: child may hold back and become
constipated. May lead to anal retentive character, repressed,
obstinate and stingy (Freud uses "orderly, parsimonious and
obstinate" - in An Outline of Psychoanalysis, C. Thompson, ed.). May
lead to rigidity - obsessively clean and neat, orderly, punctual,
possessiveness and constipation. Lack ability to make fine
distinctions or tolerate confusion and ambiguity.
Or child may use expulsion as a weapon and expel feces at
inappropriate times - cruelty, wanton destructiveness, temper
tantrums. As adult, in love relationships may view other persons
primarily as objects to be possessed.
Neglect: May also lead to the opposite - neglect. Uncleanliness,
Pleading and praising: activity is viewed as extremely important - related
to self-worth, creativity, productivity, cleanliness.
Note on the donation and gift giving:
The first opportunity the child has for giving a donation to the parents.
Giving the feces freely represents pliability, not doing so represents
spite toward authority.
The genitals become erogenous zones. Pleasurable feelings awaken a desire for
repetition - a type of masturbation. Aggressive and sexual feelings associated
with the genitals - stroking pleasure.
Children may be observed examining their sex organs, masturbating, and
expressing interest in matters pertaining to birth and sex.
Freud believed that most children understand more about sexual relations than
parents may suspect - from witnessing parents making love, or fantasies based in
information from other kids. Also felt that most children view sex as aggression
by the father against the mother.
Development of the superego.
Adult males fixated at phallic stage behave in a brash, boastful, and
reckless manner. Strive for success (symbolizes winning out over the
opposite-sexed parent) and attempt to assert their masculinity and
virility. Convince others that they are "real men". Can emerge as
unrelenting conquest of women.
Adult females will often be flirtatious, seductive and a tendency to
promiscuity, although the individual may appear naive and innocent in
sexual relationships. Alternatively, some women may strive to be superior
to men by becoming markedly assertive ("castrating females")
For both sexes, unresolved Oedipal problems also lead to impotence in men
and frigidity in women.
The resolution of the Oedipal Complex is followed by the latency period, when the
former sexual manifestations appear to be dormant. "Problems" of childhood
(relationships with parents) recede in the background, indicating that:
1. the child has resolved problems in love relationships with parents.
2. physiological changes in the child's body.
3. emergence of ego and superego as controls over behavior.
School period when child learns to sublimate and repress infantile sexuality,
until puberty when the genitals become important.
By school age the child has already developed characteristic ways of
reacting to his environment. If problems are present at this time, they are
likely to remain present.
During the narcissistic and latency period reaction formations or dams are built
up in the form of affection, shame, loathing, modesty, disgust, sympathy, and
morality which keep down the primitive impulses of childhood. Education
reinforces this process.
Child develops interests, re-invests energy in other objects (sublimation).
Solidification of ego's defense mechanisms and the superego. Sexuality is still
present, but not to as great a degree.
Freud did not devote much attention to this period. Later so called "ego
psychoanalysts" have explored it much more, e.g. Ana Freud.
Adolescence and puberty.
By prepubescent age, 9 or 10, children show themselves ready to adjust in a
definite way. React differently to each sex. Marked character changes appear at
puberty. Sexual factors become manifest and specialized. Boys tend to show
aggressive sexual make-ups; girls tend to be more passive.
Resurgence of sexual and agressive drives coupled with an increased awareness of
and interest in the opposite sex. Brought about by biochemical and physiological
changes in the organism. Reproductive organs mature, endocrine system secretes
hormones that result in secondary sex characteristics.
Narcissistic self-love is now channeled into object choices making possible
complete, long-lasting relationships.
Note on the development of relations:
Initial attachment to mother is that of anaclitic (not by choice). Oral and
Second type is that of identification. To "be like" the other.
Narcissistic. Phallic stage
Third type is sexual object relations. To "possess" the other. Self-denial
and investment in other. Genital stage.
Read from Group Psychology and Analysis of the Ego
According to Freud, all persons go through a "homosexual" stage in early
adolescence. This is because the child is still primarily narcissistic. Libido
directed toward a member of the same sex - teachers, neighbors, peers. Similar to
the identification that occured in the Oedipal complex. Young adolescents
generally prefer the company of same-sex peers, and homosexual activities are not
Object of libidnal gradually shifts to members of the opposite sex.
Represents a fusion of the part instincts. All tendencies come together in
an accomplishment of sexuality. All parts take their appropriate places. In
the normal sexual act, stimulation of the various erogenous zones ends in
sexual intercourse. Character is integrated.
Adolescence sexuality - a Psychoanalytic view:
A relatively strong id confronts a relatively weak ego, leading to increased
instinctual anxiety, heightened conflict over impulse expression, intensified
defenses against impulse, greater affective lability, and psychological
More expanded: attachments - puberty constitutes a revolution in the adolescent's
primary emotional investments and altering psychological ties to parents.
Intensified sexualization of parental affectional bonds, reactivating
unresolved sexual fantasies. Anxiety represents defenses against emotional
ties to parents and eventual reinvestment of primary sexual and affectional
needs outside family.
The ideal type of personality in psychoanalysis is the person who, having
developed mature and responsible social-sexual relationships, experiences
satisfaction through heterosexual love (this was mandated by the evolutionary
necessity of maintaining species reproduction).
To attain this state, people must relinquish the passivity of early childhood
days when love, security, physical comfort - indeed, all gratification - were
freely given and nothing was expected in return. they must learn to work,
postpone gratification, share with otheres in a warm and caring way, and above
all, assume a more active role in dealing with life's problems.
If there have been severe traumatic experiences in early childhood with
corresponding libido fixations, adequate adjustment during this stage becomes
difficult if not impossible. Freud maintained that significant conflicts in later
years are replays of sexual conflicts rooted in childhood experiences.
Love is an aim inhibited relationship. The aim of the sexual instinct at this
point is sexual union.
Sensual love is rhythmical and cyclical.
Picture of rhythm with passionless periods
We cathect both the palpable person and our representation of that person.
"Love" is the ideology or representation that holds the relationship together
across passionless periods.
Passionless love is the representation. It represents the domestication of man,
aim inhibition and repression.
This all came about during the Oedipal period, when the sensual, possessive
love of the child was turned into aim-inhibited love via identification
with the same-sex parent.
Collaborative relationships: when we work with others, a libidinal tie automatically
becomes established. Creates a problem for a competitive society. It is difficult to be
in competition with love objects, so we deny libidinal attachments.
There is a rhythm to our collaborative relationships, a coming together and
separating. When rhythms are matched, there is an increase in power. An increase
in the integrity of the individual.
Happiness and Freedom
Happiness is only possible on the basis of unfreedom - instinctual suppression.
Pleasure principle - organism resists delay of gratification, sublimation,
But this is necessary in order to survive - the reality principle must come
to dominate. Individual's instinct structure is informed or deformed. But
happiness only comes to be experienced as a result of this - contrasted
with displeasure or guilt - an happiness indicates conformity to society.
Most things that happen in society occur in order to maintain it.
Sexuality - liberation? or making something available for management?
Also can lead to destruction of the family.
Universalization of the ego.
This is why many marxists like Freud. Ideology maintains the social structure.
Social structure has produced the ideology.