Infantile Sexuality

Infantile Sexuality

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the father of the psychoanalytic school, who developed psychoanalysis theories and techniques. He is known for coming up with concepts of infantile sexuality, libido, psychosexual stages, the structure of mind that were always in the spotlight. Freud focused on five psychosexual stages that individuals go through to develop an adult personality. According to him, children have sexual urges, from which adult sexuality only gradually emerges via psychosexual development. 

He gave the concept of infantile sexuality in his theory which focused on the erogenous zones during childhood. Infantile sexuality recognized sexual stimuli that involve specific body areas and phases of development through five stages, i.e., oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. An individual seeks pleasure independently of a biological function from these erogenous zones.

In the oral stage, which begins at birth up to 1 year, an infant seeks sexual gratification from sucking at a mother’s breast that satisfies their urge.  The child is toilet trained during the anal stage, from 1-3 years; hence, the focus shifts from sucking to excretion. In the phallic stage, which lasts from 3 to 6 years, children learn differences between the sexes. Boys experience the Oedipus complex in which they are attracted to their mothers and fear castration anxiety from fathers. Girls develop the Electra complex where they are attracted to their fathers and have penis envy. Infants enjoy repeating the same pleasurable sensual experience they have discovered and so continue doing it for themselves.

Each stage of development requires resolving conflicts, leading to either build growth or suppress development. Sexual development during childhood contributes significantly to adult personalities, and any suppression or fixation at a stage can lead to maladaptive and pathological behaviors. Therefore, it is essential to acknowledge the significance of sexual development, same as any other aspect, be it physical, emotional, or social development of an individual.