The Time When Human Sexuality Begins

  • Words 2465
  • Pages 5
Download PDF

Human Sexuality begins at birth and not at puberty as others posited and repressed memories from the sixth to eight year can leave their mark on the neurotic (Freud et al., 2001, Pg. 174,175). Human Sexuality, being normal sexual life, aberrations or neurosis can result from how a person navigates through Psychosexual Stages. A child may gain too much or too little stimulation at these stages. Aberrations may also be caused when a young child who is unaware of morals and disgust is seduced by an adult, this can cause them to become polymorphously perverse, enjoying many types of perverse acts when older (Freud et al., 2001a). A traumatic event such as rape can also inhibit a person from having normal sexuality. This essay will look at how neurosis happens while trying to repress desires, with attention given to Infantile Sexuality, the Oedipus Complex and Castration Complex while referring the first three psychosexual stages and to Little Hans and Dora. Lastly, I will add a few points on what might present in contemporary therapy.

Infantile sexuality involves stages and as children grow the libido moves to different zones of the body called erotogenic zones. Freud posited that too much or too little gratification of these zones could lead to fixation (“Freud’s Sexual Theory | in Chapter 11:Personality,” n.d.). When talking about these zones there are different Psychosexual stages called the Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency and Genital.

Click to get a unique essay

Our writers can write you a new plagiarism-free essay on any topic

The Oral stage involves birth to one year. The infant gains pleasure from one’s mouth, sucking and biting. First pleasures are feeding until satiated from the mother’s breast. The child develops a sense of trust as its needs are met. Fixation at this stage can lead to overdependency, aggression, addictions and eating disorders (Gans & MD, n.d.-b).

The Anal stage from one to three years involves control of the bowel. The infant may hold back the contents till it has reached full capacity and on expulsion the strong muscular activity acts as a type of masturbatory stimulation. The infant realizes through control he can show appreciation by expulsion and disobedience on holding back his bowel matter when put on the potty (Freud et al., 2001, Pg. 187). Fixation can occur if a parent is too lenient resulting in a messy, wasteful or destructive adult. If too harsh involving punishment for having an accident fixation can occur resulting in orderly, rigid and obsessive adult (Gans & MD, n.d.-b).

The erotogenic zone in the Phallic stage from three to six years involves the genitals. Stimulation of this zone is what later is to become normal adult sexual life leading to heterosexual relationships with intercourse being the final goal. The genitals come to the attention of the child when bathing or toileting. The child may then look to repeat this stimulation by auto erotic means (Freud et al., 2001, Pg. 189). Stimulation of this zone in infancy usually disappears until the fourth year when it revives again where the subject brings about satisfaction or has nocturnal emissions. This phase later decides whether a child is to grow up healthy or suffer from neurosis. In neurotics they seem to have repressed this phase and displaced it with something else (Freud et al., 2001a).

In the Phallic stage the child looks to resolve the Oedipus Complex. The Oedipus complex is about gender identification and finding out what it is to be male or female. It manifests as a desire of the child for the opposite sex parent. The male, through repression unconsciously desires his mother, hating his father as he is as a love rival. (Gans & MD, n.d.-a).The child believes his father is aware of his feelings and fears castration. The successful resolution of this complex hinges on the identification of the child with his father thus repressing his feelings for his mother, while knowing he will get his chance to fulfill his dream with his own partner later on (“Freud’s Sexual Theory | in Chapter 11: Personality,” n.d.). The Oedipus complex comes to an end in boys when the threat of castration happens. Girls differ, the castration complex causes activation of the Oedipus Complex. A girl realizing she has no penis looks to compensate by having her fathers’ baby (Laplanche & Pontalis, 2006, Pg.285,286). Resolution of the complex happens when the girl identifies with her mother knowing she can replace the lack of phallus for a baby in the future. Both mentioned are called positive Complexes. A negative Complex happens when the child desires the same sex parent and harbors hate for the opposite sex parent resulting in the child becoming an inverted adult.

Dora was an eighteen- year old girl who presented to Freud with neurotic symptoms including a cough, loss of voice and labored breathing. Hysterics can fall ill due to sexual repression and from resistance against the libido. These libidinal instincts then find a somatic pathway to discharge the tension in what is called Conversion (Freud et al., 2001, Pg. 163,164). For Dora to resolve the Oedipus Complex she needed to identify with her mother. Unfortunately, her mother was always busy with the house suffering from,” Housewives Psychosis”. Dora’s father suffered illness at times and Dora looked after him cementing her love for him even more (Freud et al., 2001, Pg.57).

Dora was also close to a family friend called Frau K. whom her father was having an affair with. At first Dora did not seem to care about the affair, sometimes minding the K.s children to facilitate it. Frau K. was a source of adoration for Dora, she often commented on her beautiful white body (Freud et al., 2001, Pg.61). To Dora she was the epitome of what it meant to be a woman. Unconsciously she wanted to emulate her. She saw her as having her husband Herr. K.,s affections and capturing her father’s. Dora spent time with Herr K. also. He showed great fondness towards her. One day at a lake he proposed to her, telling her his wife gave him nothing. Dora despaired at this as it caused her to question whether she really meant anything to him. It also begged the question of what Frau K. meant to her father. Dora’s idea of what it was to be a woman was thrown into confusion. Subsequently Dora reverted back to the Oedipus Complex in infantile sexuality and resembled a jealous wife instead of a daughter forbidding the relationship between her father and Frau K. (Freud et al., 2001, Pg.56). During analysis Dora incessantly spoke about her father’s extra marital relationship. Freud said these supervalent thoughts from the unconscious could not be resolved consciously therefor could only mean Dora’s old feelings of love for her father were revived (Freud et al., 2001a), or repressed and never resolved. He put this to Dora to which she denied but recalled a similar incident where her cousin spoke about killing her mother and having her father to herself (Freud et al., 2001a).

Dora also knew her father was unable to have an erection but sexual gratification could happen by orally. It is the understanding that her cough at this stage was due to a desire to be in Frau K.s place (Freud et al., 2001, Pg.48). Genitals are related to excretory functions where excitement can reverse and turn to disgust. Dora’s disgust displaced from the genital to the mouth causing a cough (Freud et al., 2001, Pg.28,29). It is important to note conversion during hysteria can involve the more erogenous zone from Infantile Sexuality. Dora remembered sitting with her brother while sucking her thumb and tugging at his ear lobe (Freud et al., 2001, Pg.51).

Freud later spoke about Dora’s homosexual tendencies toward Frau K. and her jealousy of her father, saying he failed to realize the importance of the homosexual current in neurotics. Lacan said this was due to the lack of his own analysis (Fink, 2017, Pg.170). Lacan remarked that Dora’s mother was not ideal to identify with. Until the lake scene Dora identified with Frau K. believing she was able to hold two important mens attention. Dora wanted to emulate Frau K. as a means to desire and be desired (Benvenuto & Kennedy, 1996). Dora’s attraction to Frau K. was related not to Frau K. as an object of desire but to the mystery of what it is to be a woman (Gallagher C.).

Little Hans shows how a child resolves the Oedipus Complex through the Castration Complex. Hans had quite an interest in his widdler as he called it. His mother found him playing with it and threatened to cut it off causing the start of his Castration Complex (Freud, Strachey, & Freud, 2001, Pg.7,8). Hans had a close relationship with his mother. Lacan said Hans got pleasure from his mum and she from him, however Hans was a substitute for the phallus fulfilling his mother’s penis envy (Gallagher C.). Remember the lack of phallus is replaced by having a baby, that being Hans. The relationship began to change when Hans sister was born taking some of the attention from him. He also had to deal with the rejection of his mother when after asking her to touch his penis she retorted it would be piggish to do so (Gallagher C.). This weakened the relationship with his mother having to take a step back and Hans feeling rejected. After this Hans imagined he had his own children and he was their mummy, acting out the “blissful” times he had with his mum (Freud et al., 2001b).

Hans was put through analysis due to a fear of horses. What transpired was the horse signified his father. On seeing a horse fall down he wished the same for his father allowing him to solely enjoy his mother. He also had a fear the horse would bite him signifying the fear of castration from his father because of his wishes. The horse carrying carts was a signifier for his mother when pregnant with Hanna. The fear of the horse pushed him back into the house to coax with his mum fulfilling what it was supposed to do. Hans fear was that of losing his mother (Benvenuto & Kennedy, 1996).

Hans later came to realize that his parents had an exclusive relationship that did not involve him. For him to resolve the Oedipus Complex and identify with his father he needed to be castrated but Hans father was an even- tempered man and did not prove to be a castration threat therefore Hans needed to imagine is own castration. He did so by imagining the plumber took away his penis and replaced it with a new one (Gallagher C.). Resolution of the Oedipus Complex showed itself when Hans said he used to be his imaginary children’s mummy but now he was their daddy (Freud et al., 2001b).

In today’s psychotherapy the crude sounding, medical terms Freud used when describing parts of the body and sexual activities would not be acceptable when dealing with children today. Even the use of these words may cause difficulty or trauma.

Freud admitted that children are open to suggestion (Freud et al., 2001b). He used a lot of suggestion in the case of Little Hans. Children at a young age often do not have the words to articulate their thoughts and feelings. It is noted that psychoanalysis in children was in its infancy at this stage and Melanie Klein later introduced play as a way for a child to express themselves (“What Is Psychoanalysis?,” n.d.).

The essay has already spoken about how fixations at psychosexual stages can present and this is still the case. Also, neurotics today may produce less somatic symptoms as it is possible to get relief in the form of computer games, food, drugs, alcohol, shopping or fetishes to sublimate their uncomfortable desires.

Homosexual tendencies have already been mentioned in the case of neurotics. If what little Hans endured is termed the positive Oedipus Complex, today Dora may have been analyzed with the notion of possibly having a negative Oedipus Complex. It is known she identified with her brother and her father at times. Possibly her love for Frau K. was of a homosexual nature. Her cough may have been her desire turned to disgust of wanting to be in her fathers place while preforming sexually. This may not have been pursued due to antiquated social norms of that time.

In relation to Little Hans just looking at the Oedipus complex was not enough. There was a lack of taking the whole family into account as would happen today. Hans mother and father’s marriage dissolved later telling one there was marital problems present. Hans would have sensed that, causing him to worry he may lose either parent.

If the Oedipus Complex is not resolved it can present as someone being mother or father fixated causing the adult to seek out relationships with individuals who resemble the opposite sex parent (Physician, n.d.).

To conclude it can be seen how fixation at certain stages can occur and cause problems in behavior through sexual aberrations or neurosis. Repressed desires can cause symptoms of varying degrees through somatic conversion as seen with Dora’s cough or anxieties and avoidance as shown with Little Hans. The Oedipus Complex is a pivotal moment in the child’s development. Non resolution can cause problems in later life. With the adequate parental care in place or intervention when difficulties are noticed a child has a good chance of arriving at adulthood as a sufficiently healthy person.

  1. Benvenuto, B., & Kennedy, R. (1996). The works of Jacques Lacan: an introduction. London: Free Association.
  2. Fink, B. (2017). A clinical introduction to Freud: techniques for everyday practice (First edition). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  3. Freud, S., Strachey, J., & Freud, S. (2001a). A case of hysteria: three essays on sexuality and other works ; (1901-1905). In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud: Vol. transl. from the German under the general editorship of James Strachey; Vol. 7. London: Vintage.
  4. Freud, S., Strachey, J., & Freud, S. (2001b). Two case histories: “Little Hans” and the “Rat Man”) ; (1909. In The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud: Vol. transl. from the German under the general editorship of James Strachey; Vol. 10. London: Vintage.
  5. Freud’s Sexual Theory | in Chapter 11: Personality. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2019, from
  6. Gans, S., & MD. (n.d.-a). The Oedipal Complex: One of Freud’s Most Controversial Ideas. Retrieved March 2, 2019, from Verywell Mind website:
  7. Gans, S., & MD. (n.d.-b). What Are Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development? Retrieved March 2, 2019, from Verywell Mind website:
  8. Laplanche, J., & Pontalis, J.-B. (2006). The language of psycho-analysis (Reprinted). London: Karnac Books.
  9. Physician, A. B.-C. (n.d.). The Oedipal Complex: One of Freud’s Most Controversial Ideas. Retrieved March 27, 2019, from Verywell Mind website:
  10. What Is Psychoanalysis? What Is Child Psychoanalysis? (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2019, from Psychology Today website:


We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.