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Freud's theory of psycho-sexual development

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Introduction

According to Freud, sexual drive, along with aggression, is the central factor in determining the personalities of human beings and the main driving force that gives reason to, and influences what we do and who we become. He asserts that if each psycho- sexual-oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital - stage is not resolved, fixation at that particular stage, and thereafter personality and behavioural problems might occur in latter life. More importantly, infantile sexuality, which encompasses the first three stages, is said to play an imperative role in the shaping the personalities of adults. Freud believes that while boys and girls would progress similarly during the earlier oral and anal stages, it is at the phallic stage where complications in undergoing a two-fold change in sexual object and leading sexual organ might make it more difficult for girls to progress through this stage, if at all. His work experiences dealing with neurotic women has also led him to proclaim that, "Now will you have escaped worrying over this problem - those of you of are men; to those of you who are women this will not apply - you are yourselves the problem".1 He believes that women's constant need for attention and attention from their parents -and in later life, their husbands- leads them to have illnesses, which "are the result of intentions"2, albeit unconsciously. His cure for such hysteria is through psychoanalysing the patient and convincing the patient of this 'fact'. Freud's theory of psycho-sexual development and its effects as pertaining to female psychology has been rejected by some theorists such as Simone de Beauvoir for being too superficial in its claims and assumptions. However, she is also equally guilty of making similar mistakes as her own criticisms are based upon and reflective of a shallow and selective reading of Freud's own work Freud redefines the perceptions of sexuality during his time, and "rewrites the history of sexual development"3. ...read more.

Middle

After the little girl realises that she has been castrated, she may intentionally rebel against that, and insist on clinging on to her clitoridal gratification, and become more active instead of passive as femininity dictates. Freud believes that female homosexuality might occur. Although the girl may still change her maternal love-object to that of a paternal one, a regression to masculinity may occur if she feels that she has been let down by her father. In such a case, while paternal disappointments might occur to all girls, they do not have the same effect on girls who are predisposed to femininity. "The predominance of the constitutional factor seems indisputable; but the two phases in the development of homosexuals, who play the parts of mother and baby with each other as often and as clearly as those of husband and wife"11. The development of femininity can also be affected by remnants of the infantile masculine period, and regressions to pre-Oedipal fixations over time may cause women to switch from feminine to masculine stages. According to Freud, the libido - which is the motivating factor of sexuality, serves both masculine and feminine utilities; however "the accomplishment of the aim of biology has been entrusted to the aggressiveness of men and has been made to some extent independent of women's consent"12. Female sexual frigidity seems to confirm this as well, according to Freud. Freud points out several mental idiosyncrasies of mature femininity, such as the narcissistic need to be loved by their choice of object , a physical vanity due to the effects of penis envy, which is said to compensate for their lack of one, and lastly shame, which is said to cover up for the inferiority of having a genital deficiency - the lack of a penis. The choice of a love object seems to correspond with the narcissistic model of the man she had wanted to be. ...read more.

Conclusion

Evans also criticises De Beauvoir for not showing concrete evidence for her claims about the social world; " De Beauvoir proposes a thesis about women, or men's perception of them, and the proceeds to illustrate it by reference to literature... substantiating footnote... is largely absent" 22. Evans believes that by examining an ideology, De Beauvoir was trying give herself room to manipulate material and not have to account for facts. Existentialism, as advocated by De Beauvoir, is " a philosophical system of belief, whereas psychoanalysis purports to be a scientific method of investigation. They thus claim to exist on different planes, but in other to compare and contrast them and favour one over the other, de Beauvoir has had to ensure that they meet on the same plane; to do this, she has infused Freudian psychoanalysis with Jungian metaphysics"23. For example, Freud never encouraged the term Electra complex, yet De Beauvoir attacks him on that point. De Beauvoir also has many contradictory statements in her writing, which is pointed out to by Leon: " as it is plain to see, [de Beauvoir] does not speak with a single voice. Either she wishes to have it both ways, or she takes with one hand that which she gives with the other"24. There are problems with both Freud and De Beauvoir's arguments; Freud's theory of psycho-sexual development and its effects as pertaining to female psychology has been rejected by Simone de Beauvoir for reasons which were in turn found to be lacking by other writers. However, it is possible, by using Freud's theories as a starting point, to be able to emancipate women into assertive free individuals if we focus on the effects of male-supremacist culture on the development of females. Instead of rejecting femininity totally, they should embrace their femininity instead. As for De Beauvoir, although she might not seem able to solve the femininity problem, her writing describes the problematic nature of women in relation to their Freudian psycho-sexual development. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is a coursework piece aimed to test candidate's knowledge, research skills and writing ability. It focuses on Freudian Theory of Psychosexual Development, with the counter argument proposed by Simone de Beauvoir, which was then opposed by Mary Evans. The ...

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Response to the question

This is a coursework piece aimed to test candidate's knowledge, research skills and writing ability. It focuses on Freudian Theory of Psychosexual Development, with the counter argument proposed by Simone de Beauvoir, which was then opposed by Mary Evans. The coursework piece is extensive, and thoroughly and rigorously investigates the concept of Freud's psychoanalytic approach to childhood development. There is very little here that the candidate has missed, and the use of sources and citation pieces are an excellent way of both showing an ability and incentive to conduct external research, and to show honesty by correctly citing a full bibliography of addressed works.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis is simply outstanding. This piece harbours all possible signs of a top mark piece of analysis, with a sufficient amount of excellently sourced pieces of information that have been interpolated in such a fashion that, thankfully, doesn't mean they write the coursework by themselves. The danger of citing a lot of published work from professionals is that the coursework becomes an essay written by an amalgam of other people, but in moderation, it can prove a signal that the candidate is extremely able in their chosen subject. This candidate has managed to use quote from a wide range of sources and has seamlessly blended them into the coursework, with plenty of their own work as well. In effect, the candidate's own work reads with almost exactly potency if you took out the quotes, because the use of those quotes is not a necessity, it is a luxury amidst the other well-crafted and detailed analysis.
The use of specialist terminology demonstrates a clear understanding of Freudian Theory and how to successfully write about it whilst considering the counter arguments of other psychologist, and the cherry is topped in the conclusive final paragraphs where the candidates shows an obvious appreciation of both views, suggesting that maybe Freud's theory is temporally invalid and or biased to male subjects.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication (QWC) isn't as flawless as the description, evaluation or analysis. There is moments where the standards of grammar have slipped and the sentence syntax becomes slightly skewed, but none of it cause the response to read in any kind of ambiguous fashion, and therefore it is unlikely the candidate will be penalised greatly for this. However as a piece of coursework which allows a far greater time to complete than any exam question, which the opportunity of many drafts as well, there should be far fewer QWC errors than what we see here. Candidates MUST proof-read.


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