Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Development

Sigmund Freud is a well-known psychoanalyst, who introduced his psychosexual perspective to life span development. His theory implies the process of completing a series of psychosexual stages before becoming a mature personality and predominantly focuses on the period of childhood. It is based on the pleasure-seeking energies of an individual and erogenous areas, which match a particular stage of development (Cherry, 2019). The erogenous area is a part of the body, which is sensitive to stimulation. Sigmund Freud differentiates five stages of psychosexual development: oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital. Therefore, there are five different erogenous zones, which present sources of pleasure (Cherry, 2019). The psychoanalyst highlights that psychosexual energy is a powerful incentive for an individual’s behavior.

It is worthy to note that this theory contains both strong and weak points. It provides a deep insight into sexuality, its changes through the years, and how it is likely to influence the behavioral patterns of an individual. Nevertheless, Sigmund Freud focuses on male development and pays little attention to female sexuality. The fact that some people have nonstandard sexual preferences is not included in this study too. In addition, his reflections may appear to be vague to some extent, as they involve a connection between early childhood and adulthood, though there is no evidence of such a significant impact of occasions in childhood. It is highly likely that these events are forgotten by a person. Apart from this, the predictions of the psychoanalyst are not proved by empirical research.

It is evident that this theory is controversial and raises multiple questions in present-day developments. It also requires further research and additional evidence for its main thesis (Villadsen, 2008). For this reason, Freud’s study can hardly be applied to social work practice (Dybicz, 2012; Villadsen, 2008). However, it is undeniable that it supplies deep information on the sexual development of people and its influence on their actions. Therefore, this theory’s use implies a profound understanding of a particular personality and does not involve specific practical actions.


Cherry, K. (2019). Freud’s psychosexual stages of development. VerywellMind. Web.

Dybicz, P. (2012). The hero(ine) on a journey: A postmodern conceptual framework for social work practice. Journal of Social Work Education, 48(2), 267–283.

Villadsen, K. (2008). ‘Polyphonic’ welfare: Luhmann’s systems theory applied to modern social work. International Journal of Social Welfare, 17(1), 65–73.

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PsychologyWriting. "Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Development." September 11, 2023.