Psychoanalytic theory

A system of ideas developed by Sigmund Freud that explains personality and behaviour in terms of unconscious wishes and conflicts. The main emphasis was on sexuality. Freud believed that a child passes through 3 stages in the first 18 months of life: oral, anal, and genital. After this, the child develops a sexual attraction to the parent of the opposite sex and wants to eliminate the other parent ( Oedipus complex). Sexual feelings become latent around age 5 but reemerge at puberty. Psychological problems may develop if fixation occurs at a primitive stage. Modern psychoanalysis has progressed from these ideas and is generally based on the observation that most emotional problems are caused by childhood experiences. Psychoanalysis attempts to free the individual from the past, helping him or her to become a real person in the present. Psychoanalytic theory is decreasing in influence.


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