Sigmund Freud and Childhood Sexual Experiences Essay example

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Infantile Desires

Sigmund Freud, also known as the father of psychoanalysis developed many theories on human behavior and the causes of mental illness. One such theory is the theory of infantile sexuality, which includes his belief that a person’s sexuality is influenced in the first few years of life and can cause dysfunction in future years.

Freud believed that people’s erotic desires form at the infantile stage of life and that traumatic childhood events could have serious negative affects on an individual later in life. He believed that early childhood sexual experiences were factors that would determine an adult’s personality. Freud’s theory described how infants desire sexual pleasure and gain such pleasure from the act of sucking. He called this the “oral” stage of development. He then describes the next stage of development where the infant experiences pleasure by the act of defecation termed the “anal” stage. The anal stage provides the child with a release of energy. His theory then goes on to the third stage of development explaining how the infant/child develops a deep sexual attraction for the parent of the opposite sex and a hatred for the parent of the same sex. He called this the “Oedipus complex”. We see this in the myth of King Oedipus, who killed his father and took his mother as his wife. Shakespeare's Hamlet clearly depicts this infantile wish. The Oedipus complex theorizes that children see their parents as erotic wishes. They wish to take over either their mother or fathers’ spot. This, in turn, becomes early repression. The child asks many questions, such as where do babies come from and makes “infantile sexual theories”. The Oedipal Complex causes the child to feel extreme guilt for such feelings since he knows it is wrong by society’s rules to feel this way. The child also recognizes that it can never take the place of the stronger parent. A male child could perceive himself to be at risk for harm by his father if he shows sexual feelings toward his mother. The child begins to repress his hatred for his father and his desire for his mother and usually resolves the conflict of the Oedipus complex by identifying with the parent of the same sex. This usually lasts until puberty when development of the genitalia begins, and the child is more focused on pleasure from that.
Freud believed this sequence or progression was necessary for human development. Without successful achievement of these various stages of development, the child would have…