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Psychology of Adolescence

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Lesslie Veras

Psychology of Adolescence (PSY 2110* 04)

In reading the section in Chapter 1 regarding theories of adolescent development it was interesting to read all the different types of theories. There are four theoretical orientations of development which are psychoanalytic, cognitive, behavioral, and social cognitive. In reading the chapter I decided to pick two theories from the psychoanalytic perspective. The one’s that I chose were Freud’s Theory and Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory.  

Psychoanalytic theories are described as development as primarily unconscious and heavily colored in emotion. Psychoanalytic theorists emphasize that behavior is merely a surface characteristic and that a true understanding of development requires analyzing meanings of behavior and looking deep within the mind. They also say that experiences early on between parents and their children are crucial. It is common to hear the name Sigmund Freud’s name in any psychology class. It is also a very controversial theory that he has come up with. Freud’s theory focuses on that as children grow up, their focus of pleasure and sexual impulses shifts from mouth to the anus and eventually to the genitals. Freud’s theory focuses on five stages of psychosexual development which are oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital. He claims that our adult personality is determined by the way re resolve conflicts in each of these stages between pleasure and the demands of reality. During the oral stage (birth to 1 year) the infants pleasure centers on the mouth. During the anal stage (1 ½ to 3 years) , the child’s pleasure focuses on the anus. During the phallic stage (3 to 6 years), the child’s pleasure focuses on the genitals. During the latency stage (6 years to puberty), the child represses sexual interest and develops social and intellectual skills. Lastly is the genital stage (puberty onward), which is the time of sexual reawakening and the source of pleasure becomes someone outside the family.

The next theory I chose to look at was Erik Erickson’s Psychosocial Theory. Much like Freud’s controversial theory Erikson believed that personality developed in a series of stages. Unlike Freud's theory of psychosexual stages, Erikson's theory described the impact of social experience across the whole life of a person. He believed that we develop in psychosocial stages. Erikson was interested in how social interaction and relationships played a role in the development and growth of human beings. For Freud, the primary motivation for human behaviors is sexual desire and for Erikson it is social and reflects a desire to affiliate with other people. For Freud, our basic personality is shaped in the first five years as while Erikson believed developmental changes occurs throughout the life span. Erikson theory involves eight stages of development and in each stage a task happens that needs to be resolved and that shapes our development.

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