The Psychoanalytic Perspective On Infant Development

1774 words - 8 pages

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was the first to develop a theory of human development with a focus on unconscious processes and instincts. Freud believed unconscious conflicts in early childhood can determine who a person will be in adulthood. He also believed that the mind contains three parts known as the id, ego, and superego, which govern a person’s judgment (Frank, 2013). The id, which Freud believed to be present at birth, is viewed as the childlike part of the unconscious. It is pleasure seeking and represents a person’s wants, instincts, and drives. The ego, which is both conscious and unconscious, is the adult part of a person’s mind as well as the compromising component between the id and the supergo. It serves as a realistic divide between the id’s pleasure seeking principle and the superego’s idealist seeking principle. The superego can be viewed as the parent portion of the unconscious which suppresses the id’s desires and seeks perfection. The superego is also one of the only aspects of Freud’s theory that relates to the person having a strong influence from society. Freud’s mechanisms of the mind conflict with each other so that a person will be able to function ordinarily in society without being too narcissistic or too judgmental of oneself (McCleod, 2008). However, unresolved conflict in Freud’s stages may have a negative effect in a person’s adulthood.
Freud developed five psychosexual stages, ranging from birth to adolescence, in which a person’s libidinal drive is focused on his or her own body or sublimated onto something or someone else. If a person is unable to overcome a conflict present in each stage, it is believed that certain characteristics may arise in adulthood. In his first stage of development, the oral stage, the sexual energy is focused on the mouth and conflict arises from weaning the infant. Then in the anal stage, the focus is on the anus, and the conflict arises from potty training. The conflict in the phallic stage deals with the young child’s sexual feelings towards the opposite sex parent, in what Freud called “the Oedipus complex”. During the latency stage of development, a person’s energy is sublimated into activities such as school, sports, and friendships. Finally, in the genital stage the person reaches adolescence and sexual energy is focused onto others, and it is at this stage that all prior conflicts may once again arise (Maheshwari, 2013). Freud’s theory of the unconscious sparked an interest in a man named Carl Jung. He followed Freud to America, but later began his own theories on the mind.
Carl Jung was another major traditional psychoanalyst. Jung’s theory of the unconscious differs slightly than that of Freud’s in that he divided the unconscious into two parts; the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. The personal unconscious contains all of a person’s unconscious thoughts, ideas, and memories, including those that have been repressed. Jung believed the...

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