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Freud really did make some major contributions to the field of psychology. He
was the first one to suggest that psychological problems might have their roots
in how children were treated. Freud believed that most of our personality is
formed by early childhood, much of it so early that we don?t even have
conscious memories. For example, people who were toilet-trained strictly and at
an early age grow up to be intolerant of mess, disorder and anything that
doesn?t go by the rules of how things are supposed to be. In the summer of
1929, one of Freud?s patients, Herman Kleirman, wrote a letter to him in order
to be able to understand a dream he had. The symbolism and depiction of this
dream represents the different stages of Freud?s theory of development. The
first thing the patient remembers is that he was in a very dark and
uncomfortable space. Soon after, he fell down a tunnel and ended up in a lake.
This is the suggestion of the moment of birth, when the baby is still inside the
mother (the dark spot). The tunnel he talks about is the birth canal through
which he will come out and see the light for the first time. Up to that moment,
the baby has been in water for nine months. So, once he is outside (in the
lake), he starts to take oxygen. This is why he felt that ?the lake was filled
with more than water?, which is air. Next, the patient grasped onto something
to save himself in the dream. This is the representation of the beginning of the
oral stage for the baby. Now, the mouth is his only connection with the world.
Grabbing and sucking are two of the only things that the baby can do at this
point. As Freud indicates in his theory, little kids have the desire to
Freud?s psychosexual stages of development 3 suck all the time. They grab the
mother?s nipple for milk, as the man grabbed and ate that thing in the dream
to save his life. He tasted something bitter and acidic. This is similar to the
taste of the first milk the baby has from the mother when he starts sucking.
During the oral passive stage, the EGO, the rational and conscious part of our
minds, starts to develop. After getting to the edge of the lake, Mr. Kleinman
describes a horrible and disgusting feeling caused by thick and stinky mud that
he was into up to his waist. This compares to the stage of the toilet training
in the baby?s development, called the anal-retentive stage. Here, the child
starts to recognize internal sensations. Subsequently, the guy felt very
uncomfortable and overwhelmed by the feeling and odor of the mud, which makes
reference to the feces. Next comes the anal-expulsive stage, when the baby wants
to get rid of the ?mud?. In this stage, kids are very interested in the
products of their own bodies. They are rebellious and out of control. In the
dream, the patient suddenly started feeling much better because the mud was
converted into silver-white sand. He loved that feeling as much as the baby does
when he has the diaper changed and feels clean and comfortable again. This also
happens when little kids are finally able to go to the toilet by themselves.
Like Mr. Kleinman, they feel on ?dry land?. Moreover, the clean sand made a
path going into the distance. This path takes the baby to the next stage: the
phallic stage. This is called the Oedipal conflict, which happens when the child
falls in love with his mother. At this point, the SUPEREGO develops. It is
governed by the morality principle and it is the last part of the personality to
be formed. Besides, the father is his opponent in the battle for his mom?s
attention. In Freud?s psychosexual stages of development 4 the dream, we find
a representation of this stage in the part when the man gets to a large tower.
This tower is the symbol associated with the father?s penis. As we know, the
penis is the representation of the source of a man?s power. The baby gets
jealous and hates his dad for the power he has over him. Likewise, the man
wanted to destroy the tower in the dream: ?I wished I had an axe to chop it
down or matches to set in on fire.? This is similar to the internal feeling
the baby has for his father when he cannot get enough consideration from the
mother. The man found no way to enter the tower, as the kid has no way to
compete with his dad. Mr. Kleinman goes on in his dream. He follows the path
that takes him to a tangled and dense forest. This forest has a cave that makes
reference to a woman?s vagina. The baby is not a baby anymore. He is now an
adolescent in the puberty stage ready to have sex for the first time. It is a
frightening experience as the man explains in the dream. He felt terrified.
However, he felt a force pulling him closer and closer to the cave. This force
is the sexual desire that helps every man overcome the awful fear to enter
?the cave?. In the dream, he feels like he is being sucked in to be
devoured, which is the fear to lose his sexual power if he enters the cave. This
is the genital stage. To sum up, Mr. Kleinman?s dream illustrates the
different psychosexual stages of a person?s first years of life. These are the
oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital stages. As we have seen, we become
sexual individuals since the day we are born. At birth, we acquire the ID
structure of the personality, which is the primitive animal instinct controlled
by the pleasure principle; the other two, the EGO and the SUPEREGO, develop
within the five first years of life. Besides, these stages determine every
person?s Freud?s psychosexual stages of development 5 personality. For
example, gamblers and people with other addictions go back to any kind of
problem in the anal expulsive stage. As Freud pointed out, all the energy of the
?psyche? is concentrated at birth, and by the time we are five, our
personality is practically shaped.
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