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Importance of Early Development in Personality Development

Importance of Early Development in Personality Development

A significant contribution of the LO4 psychoanalytic model is delineation of the stages of psychosexual and psychosocial stages of development from birth through adulthood. The psychosexual stages refer to the Freudian chronological phases of development, beginning in infancy.

Freud postulated three early stages of development that often bring people to counseling when not appropriately resolved. First is the oral stage, which deals with the inability to trust oneself and others, resulting in the fear of loving and forming close relationships and low self-esteem. Next, is the anal stage, which deals with the inability to recognize and express anger, leading to the denial of one’s own power as a person and the lack of a sense of autonomy. Third, is the phallic stage, which deals with the inability to fully accept one’s sexuality and sexual feelings, and also to difficulty in accepting oneself as a man or woman. According to the Freudian psychoanalytic view, these three areas of personal and social development—love and trust, dealing with negative feelings, and developing a positive acceptance of sexuality—are all grounded in the first six years of life. This period is the foundation on which later personality development is built. When a child’s needs are not adequately met during these stages of development, an individual may become fixated at that stage and behave in psychologically immature ways later on in life.

Erikson’s Psychosocial Perspective The developmental stages postulated LO5 by Freud have been expanded by other theorists. Erik Erikson’s (1963) psychosocial perspective on personality development is especially significant. Erikson built on Freud’s ideas and extended his theory by stressing the psychosocial aspects of development beyond early childhood. The psychosocial stages refer to Erikson’s basic psychological and social tasks, which individuals need to master at intervals from infancy through old age. This stage perspective provides the counselor with the conceptual tools for understanding key developmental tasks characteristic of the various stages of life. Erikson’s theory of development holds that psychosexual growth and psychosocial growth take place together, and that at each stage of life we face the task of establishing equilibrium between ourselves and our social world. He describes development in terms of the entire life span, divided by specific crises to be resolved. According to Erikson, a crisis is equivalent to a turning point in life when we have the potential to move forward or to regress. At these turning points, we can either resolve our conflicts or fail to master the developmental task. To a large extent, our life is the result of the choices we make at each of these stages.

Erikson is often credited with bringing an emphasis on social factors to contemporary psychoanalysis. classical psychoanalysis is grounded on id psychology, and it holds that instincts and intrapsychic conflicts are the basic factors shaping personality development (both normal and abnormal). contemporary psychoanalysis tends to be based on ego psychology, which does not deny the role of intrapsychic conflicts but emphasizes the striving of the ego for mastery and competence throughout the human life span. Ego psychology therapists assist clients in gaining awareness of their defenses and help them develop better ways of coping with these defenses (McWilliams, 2016). Ego psychology deals with both the early and the later developmental stages, for the assumption is that current problems cannot simply be reduced to repetitions of unconscious conflicts from early childhood. The stages of adolescence, mid-adulthood, and later adulthood all involve particular crises that must be addressed. As one’s past has meaning in terms of the future, there is continuity in development, reflected by stages of growth; each stage is related to the other stages.

Viewing an individual’s development from a combined perspective that includes both psychosexual and psychosocial factors is useful. Erikson believed Freud did not go far enough in explaining the ego’s place in development and did not give enough attention to social influences throughout the life span. A comparison of Freud’s psychosexual view and Erikson’s psychosocial view of the stages of development

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