19 Dec 2022


Sigmund Freud: A Life of Controversy

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Sigmund Freud is said to have been a native Pribor in the Czech Republic, and he was born in the year 1856. His dad used to sell merchandise. His family relocated to Leipzig and later stayed in Vienna, where Freud took his studies. BBC-History-Sigmund Freud (n.d.). Even though Freud’s family was historically Judaic, Freud was quite irreligious. In 1873, Freud took up medicine as a course at the University of Vienna. When he graduated, he got a job at the Vienna General Hospital. In 1885, Freud went to Paris. Here, he became a student to Jean Charcot. On return to Vienna, he started a private practice firm, dealing with brain disorders. Later on, Freud wedded Martha Bernays, and they got six children.

Freud made nervous sickness his area of specialty, dealing mainly with hysteria. Freud would note down what a patient was saying and would then analyse the same. This kind of treatment was known as free association. By 1895, he had written numerous studies on Hysteria, acting together with Breuer. Sigmund Freud biography (2016). In 1900, Freud wrote his book” The Interpretation of Dreams, inspired by his dad’s death. Also, for quite the same reasons, in 1901, Freud wrote the ‘Psychopathology of Everyday Life’. In 1902, Freud attained the position of professor at the University of Vienna. He attained followers and created the society of Psychoanalysis. Consequently, other renowned psychologists such as Alfred Adler and Carl Jung became followers of Sigmund.

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Freud is sometimes taken in a humorous way, as having perceived everything in a sexual way. In 1923, he wrote “The Ego and the Id”, and this brought with it a new structural model of the brain. In 1933, the Nazis torched down several of Freud’s books. Freud relocated to London from Vienna with his daughter and wife. Freud was diagnosed with jaw cancer in 1923, he had many operations but eventually passed on, on September 23 1939.

General overview of Freud psychosexual theory 

Freud is the father of the theory that we are going to look at, the psychosexual theory of development. This theory explains how personality develops throughout childhood. As Cherry K (2016) says, Freud had the belief that personality developed through a chain of stages in the childhood. A part of these, are pleasure searching energies of the id. These energies were taken to be what drives behaviour. When a person goes through their developmental stages successfully, they develop into a healthy personality. If certain issues are not dealt with well at each stage, fixation comes about. Fixation is where by one fails to progress to the next stage and persists in one. Cherry K (2016) gives an example that given that a person fixates at the oral stage, he may seek to compensate for this retardation by depending on others and in addition, may seek pleasure in thing like smoking and drinking.

The first stage is the oral stage; it is the stage between birth and one year of age. At this stage, the focus is mainly on the mouth. The mouth is vital and the child seeks pleasure from stimulating the oral area through things like suckling and tasting. Because the child solely depends on the feeder who is the care taker, comfort and trust is developed in this stage. The major problem in this stage is weaning, the child must develop less dependency on the feeder who is the caretaker. If oral fixation does not occurs the concerned person may end up being heavily dependent on others, or may even become highly aggressive. Oral fixation may bring about problems like nail biting drinking and smoking.

The anal stage is the second stage, this stage happens within one and three years of age. During this stage the libido focus is on managing the bowel and bladder. The major challenge in this stage is potty training. As Freud stated, the success of this stage mainly depends on the approach that the parents take to training their child. Parents who use words of praise for their kids produce positive results in their kids. Freud believed that it is at this stage that people become productive and creative adults. Cherry K (2016). Positive outcomes are not always the case, so when a parent is lenient on their kids at this stage, an anal-expulsive personality may come about. This is a personality where one is full of mess or destructive. As Cherry K (2016) states if a parent is too strict or start potty training before the required time an anal-retentive personality comes about, and the involved person becomes quite orderly.

The third stage is the phallic stage; this stage is between the years of three to six. During this stage, the major focus is on the genitals. It is at this stage that children start to know the difference between male and female. Freud stated that it is at this stage that there is the Oedipus complex where boys desire their mother and girls desire their father.

The fourth stage is the latent stage; this stage ranges from six years to puberty. At this stage there is calm which is aided by development of the ego and superego, this is according to Cherry K (2016). The stage is cantered around when the child enters school; therefore it is concerned about peer relationships, and hobbies. This stage has great significance as one is able to develop self confidence and communication skills.

The final stage is the puberty stage which ranges from puberty stage to old age i.e. death. At this stage of development in psychosexual, the person has strong sexual feelings on people of the opposite gender. This stage starts at puberty and goes on till death. Unlike the other stages where the focus is on individual needs alone, interest is on others comes along.

The theory is still considered controversial to date. There has been a number of observations and criticism of Freud’s theory. Such criticism include, the theory is mainly focussed on the male and rare inclusion of the female. The theory also has a challenge to test scientifically. The future prediction of behaviour is inaccurate; this is because you cannot say behaviour seen right now was due to childhood experience the period of time is very long to conclude so. Cherry K (2016) the theory is also based on case study and not empirical research


Practical implication/application of the psychosexual theory 

As Heffner states, such fears as arachnophobia could be explained by a child’s upbringing and this also concerns their experiences whilst growing up. Usually, there is a representation object in the childhood, which causes the phobia. Because the parent, basically the mother, plays a key role in the child development, their attitudes towards the matter of child upbringing must also be considered in trying to establish the root cause of their child’s behaviour. The psychologist will also go through the child’s dreams, and must analyse their relationships too. These will also include the therapeutic relationship. Owing to this analysis, we may find out that the fear of something, say a spider, culminates from the concerned person’s fear of castration. Once the psychologist has known how the fear came about, he/she could then use several criteria to treat the patient. One way would be re-parenting. By knowing the real fear in this case the parent, the patient can be cured of the displaced fear, in this case the spider. This way you will have treated the fear, by applying Freud theory.

Current trends or finding related to psychosexual theory 

There has been a lot of research going on about the psychosexual theory in the past ten years, though there have been very limited attempts to put the information that’s been gathered together. Current research goes to prove that drinking and smoking, if they happen in the later years of someone’s development, they have direct connection to the oral stage. Case studies done in the recent past further show that, when fixation occurs in the oral stage it results to problems like the one that’s been stated above.

Summary and personal reflection 

In conclusion we can see that Freud’s work has greatly influenced modern life, in fact, in very many ways. Almost all fields apply the works of Freud, be it education, engineering, business or theology. His works have proved to be the corner stone behind all careers in general. His theory, the psychosexual theory of development, has been very crucial in terms of shaping psychology. You will find contributions of Freud Sigmund in multiple disciplines; therefore, it goes without saying that Freud shaped modern life to a very great extent. We should take on the great works of Freud, mostly especially the psychosexual theory of development, and should embrace it to make life better and to solve current problems in a more effective manner.


BBC-History-Sigmund Freud (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic-figures/freud_sigmund.shtml 

Biography.com editors (2016, August 3) Sigmund Freud. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/sigmundfreud-9302400 

Cherry, K. (2016, November 18). Freud’s stages of psychosexual development. Retrieved from https://www.verywell.com/freuds-stages-of-psychosexual-development-2795962 

Heffner ,C.L (n.d.). Chapter 12:Section3: Application of Theory to practice. Retrieved from https://allpsych.com/personalitysynopsis/application/ 

Psychoanalytic Theory and Approaches, (n.d). Retrieved from http://www.apsa.org/content/psychoanalytic-theory-approaches 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Sigmund Freud: A Life of Controversy .


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