Sigmund Freud is considered one of the most controversial and influential minds in the 20th century. A neurologist born Sigismund on May 6th 1856, he later changed his name to Sigmund. Freud spent part of his life where he was born Freiberg, Moravia which is now known as Pribor in the Czech Republic then moved to Leipzig then to Vienna finally. The family was Jewish, but he did not practice. Freud began his studies in medicine in the year 1873 at the University of Vienna. After his graduation from school, he joined the Vienna General Hospital where in collaboration with Josef Breuer they treated hysteria using the “recall of painful experience under hypnosis” approach. In 1885 however, Freud moved to Paris as a student of neurology. In his lifetime Freud made great contributions to understanding human behavior a subject that contributes directly to education since teachers deal with different types of students from diverse backgrounds. He died on 23rd September 1939 after battling with jaw cancer for more than 15 years ("BBC - History - Sigmund Freud", 2014).
The neurologist is best known for creating an entirely new approach to understanding the human personality. Sigmund Freud is also referred to as the father of psychoanalysis due to his contribution to understanding the mind. Sigmund Freud worked closely with Joseph Breuer where they elaborated on the theory of mind being a complex energy system and which formed a basis for the structural investigation. In his study, Freud refined the concepts of the mind like the infantile sexuality, unconscious and repression and in which he proposed three parts in the mind’s structure. The investigation was to help in conceptualizing and forming a frame of reference for understanding human psychological development and treating abnormal mental conditions. It would be said that Freud constituted the basis of the today’s complex psychoanalysis. Freud not only made remarkable achievements in the field of psychology, but he also contributed to understanding the development of a child and what influences the behaviors of people when they are adults (Thornton, n.d.).
The neuropsychologist proposed the theory of psychosexuality that helps understand the development of a child. The theory proposed five stages that a child goes through in his/her development to adulthood. The stages start from the oral stage to the anal stage, the phallic stage, the latency stage and finally the genital stage. During the first stage which is the oral stage, children get pleasure in sucking, chewing and biting. The stage takes place during the first 18months of the child’s development. The second stage which is the anal stage takes place between 18 months to three years. At this stage, children get an understanding of the environment as their mothers try to train them. The stage is known as the anal stage since the children experience pleasure in the bladder and sphincter muscles. At the phallic stage, pleasurable feelings are associated with genitals. Freud explains this stage as where children get attracted to the opposite sex parent where a boy is attracted to the mother and is jealous of his father and sees him as a rival. The boys may feel guilty and develop castration anxiety due to fear that their father might retaliate by castrating them. Girls also experience the same, but for them, they wish to eliminate their competition which is their mother. Latency is the next stage which takes place between the ages of 6 or 7 to the age of 11 or 12. The sexual desires go dormant for a while, and this is the stage where people from the same sex are seen playing together with no interest in the opposite sex. The interests of individuals at this age are in school, making friends and any other non-sexually related things. The latency stage is followed by the final stage known as the genital stage. The genital stage is where sexual desires are awaked, and the individuals want to engage in mature sexual relations with the opposite sex. The stage is mostly associated with an outburst of hormones and genital pleasures (McLeod, 2013).
A child can become fixated with pleasures that come along with a particular point of development. The result of this is that a child can get too much pleasure or too little during the stage. An example of a person fixated is a chain smoker when they get to adulthood which is due to fixation at the oral stage. Someone fixated at the anal stage may end up becoming disorganized as an adult, a condition known as anal expulsive. Anal retentive is another condition as a result of anal stage fixation which causes one to be a perfectionist, uptight and controlling (McLeod, 2013).
The development theory has influenced a lot of education theories. An example of a theorist who was profoundly influenced by this was Erik Erikson. The personality theory is another one that contributes in the education sector. In this theory, Freud proposes that unconscious part of the mind was the basis of behavior motivation in human. Through this theory, we are now aware that abnormal and normal state of mind may be by cultural difference and should be seen from this context, especially in the educational environment. Cultural, social and environmental differences are a major contributor to personality difference and should be considered in an educational environment. He believed that a child’s behavior problem emanates from the relationship between the child and the mother. The actions are unconscious on the child’s part, and the only way to solve the issue is through play therapy. Freud’s therapeutic play has continued to be used even today especially by children with special needs (Anderson, Hagood, & Lupo, 2013).
The theory laid the ground for research to be conducted and to contribute to improvements in the relations between children and their parents. Understanding the stage of life a child is in, helps one to be able to know how to handle the child, be it in class or the school environment. Together with the theory of dynamic personality, it is a great contribution to the education sector and also the society at large. The contribution he made in learning is not directly seen, but through his theories, there is a better understanding of classroom diversity and ways of helping special needs students through play therapy.
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