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By Sam Vaknin
Author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited"

The Viennese neurologist, Sigmund Freud, was among the first to offer a model of psychological development in early childhood (within the framework of psychoanalysis). He closely linked the sex drive (libido) to the formation of personality and described five psychosexual stages, four of which are centered around various erogenous zones in the body.

The pursuit of pleasure ("the pleasure principle") and the avoidance of pain drive the infant to explore his or her self and the world at large. Pleasure is inextricably linked to sexual gratification. In the oral phase (from birth to 24 months), the baby focuses on the tongue, lips, and mouth and derives gratification from breast feeding, thumb sucking, biting, swallowing, and other oral exploratory activities.

This is naturally followed by the anal stage (24 to 36 months). The baby immensely enjoys defecation and related bowel movements. But it is also the first time in his or her life that the toddler is subjected to the censure and displeasure of caretakers. Hitherto unconditionally adoring adults now demand that the infant delay gratification, relieve himself only in the bathroom, and not play with his feces. This experience - of hitherto unprecedented adult approbation - can be traumatic.

The phallic stage (age 3 to 6 years) involves the discovery of the penis and clitoris as foci of pleasurable experience. This tantalizing novelty is coupled with sexual desire directed at the parent of the opposite sex (boys are attracted to their mothers and girls, to their fathers). The child overtly and covertly competes with the same-sex parent for the desired parent's attention: boys joust with their fathers and girls with their mothers. These are the famous Oedipal and Electra complexes.

If the parent is insufficiently mature or narcissistic and encourages the attentions of the child in acts of covert (emotional) and overt (physical) incest, it could lead to the development of certain mental health disorders, among them the Histrionic, Narcissistic, and Borderline personality disorders. Doting, over-indulgence, and smothering are, therefore, forms of child abuse. Sexual innuendo, treating the child as an adult or substitute partner, or regarding one's offspring as an extension of one's self also constitute abusive conduct.

The phallic stage is followed by 6 to 7 years of latent sexuality that is rekindled in puberty. Adolescence is a period of personal development labeled by Freud the genital phase. In the previous rungs of psychosexual evolution, the child's own body was the source of sexual pleasure. Hitherto, the adolescent and young adult seeks sexual gratification from and invests sexual energy in others. This object-relatedness is what we call mature love.


Author Bio

Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, Global Politician, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Visit Sam's Web site at

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The following comments are for "Psychosexual Stages of Personal Development"
by samvak

What on GOD'S GREEN EARTH does all of this phycho-bable mean? This is not a negative comment but a 'WTF!?!?!?!?!' comment. Can you explain this in the language of a 17 year-old?

( Posted by: thenightcalls [Member] On: November 4, 2006 )

17-year old European and Asian readers would have no problem with my text.

17 year-old Americans - and Americans of any other age - have problems reading texts, no matter how simplified. It's called functional illiteracy.


( Posted by: samvak [Member] On: November 5, 2006 )

Thenightcalls: I can explain

Since what you're getting from Sam is ridicule and bile, I thought I'd step in and try to help out.

Sam is using as a platform to, basically, repeat chunks of basic psychological texts that are readily found in plenty of other places. My guess is that he's doing so in order to link them, from a search engine key-word standpoint, to his book and website, which he mentions at the beginning and end of each of his posts.

This is well within the rules of this site, so I'm not screaming "foul," just pointing it out.

You won't get a civil response from Sam. He doesn't respond well to other children, to folks asking questions, to comments of any sort, actually. He's a pretty good writer, and I tried to engage him in civil discourse once or twice on this site; it failed miserably, as he was primarily interested in calling me names and insulting large swaths of humanity as whole, youth in particular, and Americans in hyper-particular.

If you are interested in Freudian psychology, I'd direct you to that category's page on Wikipedia:

Another good, basic explanation of Freud's life and thoughts, as a whole, can be found here:

The "AllPsych Online: Psych 101" course is also pretty good:

My personal take, as someone who has spent some considerable time talking with a number of psychiatrists (including my father), psychologists and others in the field, is that Freud was a genius whose theories were more important than correct. By this I mean that he thought about things in *ways* that others never had before, and that were incredibly helpful for the formation of modern understanding of mental processes. But the specific conclusions he came to were often questionable, especially when read in light of his own upbringing and the times in which he was raised.

To put it another way, he invented some great tools, but then used them to build some really whacked-out constructions.

PS to Sam -- How do you know that thenightcalls is American? And if, as you say, illiteracy is endemic to America, can you tell me if rudeness and racism is equally common among your people?

( Posted by: andyhavens [Member] On: November 5, 2006 )

Turn the page quickly
Better to explain in the words of an 18 year old and avoid the troubles of the Hon. Congressman Mark Foley.

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: November 5, 2006 )

beatbox and baggy pants
In other words, a 17-year old should yearn to express himself in the language of an enlightened individual, and without resorting to acronyms hiding the membership in various glib-and-flip youtube clubs.

( Posted by: Teflon [Member] On: November 5, 2006 )

I would urge caution in adopting Andyhavens' curious and idiosyncratic take on Freud and his work.

Read these introductory essays instead:

As for my view of America and its denizens - read my essays here:

I am an implacable and virulent foe of America,Americans, and all things American - is true and I am proud of it.

That I am equally an enemy of youth is not true. Less politely put: it is a slanderous lie.

Take care.


( Posted by: samvak [Member] On: November 5, 2006 )

Non-stick dysfunction
Pardon me, samvak- and sigh if you must...

But how refreshing to hear from Teflon!

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: November 5, 2006 )

Part II of my comment:

Being anti-American is not a form of racism. Americans are not a race. They like to think that they are a nation.

I can't expect Americans to actually use language properly, so you are forgiven for misusing the word, Andyhavens...;o))

As for rudeness:

Certain groups of people deserve rudeness and much more than rudeness for their misdeeds and vile criminality. Americans top my list right now. My views are shared by the vast majority of humanity. Americans are outcasts almost everywhere - a position they well earned.


( Posted by: samvak [Member] On: November 5, 2006 )

Sam's rudeness
You are SO VERY WRONG. We are not communicating in Germanic. VERY MUCH MORE LATER! USA saved the sorry asses of europe (Small e intentional-You could speak German or Russian- salute the sick and hammer.

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: November 5, 2006 )

More about racism
Hi, drsoos,

More about racism here:

I liked Teflon's comment, too - so, sorry, no sigh this time (laughing).


( Posted by: samvak [Member] On: November 6, 2006 )

I haven't the time to peruse your copious output but I shall no longer begrudge it. I haven't the time for the pain. Let go and let God (or dog if that works for you).

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: November 8, 2006 )

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