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Understanding Early Sexual Development

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  The source  and aim of the instinct are constant; the source can be changed or eliminated only by physical maturation. New bodily needs, due to maturation, may give birth to new instincts. But object and impetus can vary during the lifetime. It suggests that psychic energy is displaceable. Thus when a need is thwarted, due to the inaccessibility of the object, maybe gratified by substituting object (Hall et all1998). Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) gave emphasis on biological as well a sexual development in particular. He brought forward a theory of personality development that focused on the effects of the sexual pleasure drive on the individual psyche.

According to Freud, personality develops through a series of stages during which pleasure-seeking energies become focused on certain areas of the body - the erogenous zones; that is a single body part is particularly sensitive to sexual, erotic stimulation at a particular point of a developmental process. These are the mouth, anus as well as the genital area. A healthy personality is the outcome of the successful completion of these stages. If it does not happen then it results in a fixation, which is an importunate focus on an earlier psychosexual stage, leading to an unhealthy personality.

Until this conflict is resolved, the individual remains "stuck" to the stage. According to Freud, the most essential motivating force is the sexual impulse. This is the most important motivating factor for children as well as adults. Here, sexuality refers to all pleasurable sensations from the various areas of skin. The infant enjoys putting everything in the mouth, especially sucking at the breast. Later on, focuses moved onto anus and change continues. Based on these, Freud introduced the concept of psychosexual stages of development.

The stages may be explained as follows: THE ORAL STAGE: this stage lasts from birth to about one year. The infant obtains sensual pleasure first by sucking and later by biting. This is the stage of building trust as per Erickson (1902 – 1994). By holding and feeding the mother provide enough security to the child. Moreover, this is the stage when the contract with a mother occurs during feeding and teething pain is relived by biting; these all help to make the mouth the focus of the pleasure, sucking and biting remain the most favorite activities.

By holding and feeding the physiological need and safety needs, (as described by Abraham Maslow 1970), particular for that age, may also be fulfilled.  

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