Oral Gratification in Children(Oral Stage of Development)

In his theory on psychosexual stages of development, Sigmund Freud focused on five psychosexual stages that individuals go through to develop an adult personality. Certain conflicts and fixations characterize each stage. For healthy development, it is necessary to resolve these fixations.

The oral stage starts from birth and lasts up to one year. The instant gratification of needs marks it. The mouth is the erogenous zone and the first point of contact for the infant to the outer world. The pleasure is derived from the mouth through sucking from the mother’s breast. The child constantly needs oral stimulation and finds pleasure in oral exploration, putting anything in the mouth, and thumb sucking. The stage is divided into the early oral-sucking phase, in which sucking during feeding helps achieve gratification. The later oral-biting phase is when biting also achieves gratification. 

Oral Fixations

If the infant is weaned too early or late and is not fed at appropriate times, it can lead to conflict later in their lives. It can be in the form of neglect, if unfed; overprotected if they’re overfed, making them dependent on others to satisfy their needs. This period is significant for the child to develop trust and warmth with the primary caregiver, the mother, which will have a bearing on their relationship.

Any fixation in this stage can later in life manifest in the form of alcohol addiction, smoking, nail-biting, aggressive, and abusive tendencies. It can also manifest as eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia, pica (consumption of nonedible items). 

Appropriate care, warmth, and timely attention to the child’s needs will lead to the development of a healthy adult personality.