Psychosexual development is one of the aspects of individual mental development, during which the sexual self-awareness, sexual role and psychosexual orientation of a person are formed. It starts from the first months of life and is fully completed by the age of 20-25 with the entry of an individual into the period of mature sexuality (the beginning of regular sexual life with a regular partner).
In fact, already in the prenatal period (from conception to birth) the development and sexual differentiation of the gonads, genitalia, and brain structures responsible for sexual behavior, aggressiveness, maternal instinct, etc., occur. during the critical period of pregnancy (7–32 weeks of intrauterine life), various
Egogenic factors affect the fetus (stress in the pregnant woman, impaired uteroplacental circulation, the woman’s taking such medications paratytes, like glucocorticoids, anabolic steroids, progestins, reserpine, etc.). Back in the late 60s of the last century, it was found that girls born to mothers who received progestin to prevent miscarriages, were distinguished by high intelligence, were physically like boys, played war, fought, showed independence and self-confidence. Growing up, such girls often become executives, their maternal instinct is poorly pronounced, they are aggressive, uncompromising, and unsociable in a family. It is also known that the boys born in besieged Leningrad, on the contrary, were notable for their softness, docility, homelyness, they liked to play with dolls, which is associated with the feminizing effect of stress on the male fetus. Thus, the prevention of disorders of psychosexual development should begin even before the birth of the child, therefore, for a pregnant mother, it is necessary to create conditions that exclude harmful effects on the fetus.
Russian sexologists distinguish three stages of psychosexual development. The first and second stages and the stages of the third stage are characterized by a certain phasedness, which is one of the regularities of psychosexual development. In the first phase (development of the installation) information is accumulated and processed: at stages I and II – about the existence of sexes, about the sexual role, at stage III – about the characteristics of sexual behavior, its external manifestations and essence. The first phase can be considered complete only if there is an internal readiness to implement the formed trends. In the second phase (learning and securing the installation in game situations, i.e. “in practice”, learning is done on the definition of gender (stage I) and gender-role behavior (stage II), and in stage III – the realization of sexual attraction. the attitudes developed in the first phase are tested and consolidated.Social isolation, primarily deprivation of communication with peers, leads to a distortion of sexual behavior, impairment of the realization of attraction not only in humans, but also in animals.
Stage I The formation of sexual identity, i.e., awareness of one’s own identity to a particular sex (1–4 years) occurs under the influence of a micro-social environment, but is largely determined by sexual differentiation of the brain in the prenatal period. At this stage, the consciousness of the sex of oneself and other people is formed, confidence in its irreversibility, after which any attempts to change the sexual identity are unsuccessful.
From the first months of life, the child constantly receives confirmations from the parents, whether he is a boy or a girl. Sex differences in the game behavior of children are found from about 12-13 months. Girls are more often asked to hand to their mother, touch her, tend to passive games in one place. Boys are more active, restless, avoid prolonged parental caresses. Children see family members both dressed and undressed, so by the age of 1–1.5 they already know (albeit unconsciously): this is what mom looks like, so is dad, and so does brother or sister. At the same age, children begin to bare themselves and show themselves to others, examine and feel their body, often play with the genitals, which is due to curiosity, and not sexuality. That is how they comprehend the sex differences of people. If a child aged 1–4 years did not have the opportunity to consider well the differences in the body structure of a man and a woman, then he will try to fill this gap, and the later this happens (for example, in puberty), the higher the probability of deviations in sexual behavior. Normally, the completion of this stage is evidenced by the fact that when a child determines the sex of others, he equally takes into account all the signs of gender (appearance, clothes, body structure and genital organs) and the realization that he is forever a boy or girl, and when he grows up will be male or female. There is a sexual identity – a sense of self-constancy, self-identity, soul and body.
The first stage of psychosexual development has other important features. In the first 2–3 years of life, children form speech, self-consciousness is formed (separating themselves from the outside world). The micro-social environment during this period is limited to close relatives, among whom the mother plays a special role, and a small circle of peers. Close emotional and tactile contact with the mother is extremely necessary for the child from the first months of life to about 3 years, because it contributes to the maturation of the deep structures of the brain responsible for human sexual behavior and the laying of erogenous zones, which is further important for the development of sexuality (especially in women) . A special role here belongs to breastfeeding, which provides the closest bodily contact between mother and child. Communication with the mother, the development of attachment to her gives the child a sense of security and lays the foundation for adequate, friendly relations with others. At this age, the deprivation of the mother leads to reaction to strangers by fear and aggression, and then to formal relations with comrades, promiscuity in the choice of friends, excessive cruelty. As adults, these individuals are often unable to feel affection for other people, including their sexual partner. It should be noted that the lack of maternal care, for all its problems and difficulties, is not fatal to the normal development of the child. Many experts believe that children with a healthy “soil” (without organic brain pathology), brought up by adoptive parents or even in an orphanage, but received enough affection and attention, can grow up to be quite harmonious personalities.
Note that, according to Piaget’s views, children first learn the standards of social behavior, thanks to the knowledge and implementation of certain rules, and only after that they make the transition from the learned role to the realization of their gender. It is known that children as early as 1–1.5 years old begin to imitate the parent of the same sex with them and demonstrate appropriate behavior in games (boys try to screw in screws with a screwdriver, knock a hammer, girls use lipstick, powder, etc.). P.). According to I.D. Isaeva and D.N. Kagana (1986), the child first experiences himself as a representative of sex – this primary identity is associated with sexual differentiation in the prenatal period and the style of communication with the child in infancy. Then, in accordance with the primary identity, he identifies himself with the parent of his gender and imitates the corresponding behavior. Only after this, the child finally forms a sexual identity. In further development, the sex role and gender identity function in a system of feedbacks, reinforcing each other.
Stage II. Forming a stereotype of sex role behavior. At this stage (usually up to 9 years), there is a choice of the gender role that most closely matches the psycho-physiological characteristics of the child and the ideals of masculinity or femininity adopted in the micro-social environment in which he is brought up.
The second stage is characterized by intensive socialization of the child. During this period, learning to communicate with peers takes place, emotional reactions are improved and differentiated, and character is formed. This age is characterized by insufficient development of the will and impulsive behavior, curiosity, gullibility, imitation. Elements of abstract logical thinking are developing. Acquiring personal independence does not mean losing contact with parents. On the contrary, parents and their relationships become the object of increased attention and imitation. They are perceived by the child as a model of masculinity and femininity, as an example of the relationship between the sexes.
Proper sex-role behavior of parents largely determines the formation of an adequate sexual role in the child. In communicating with peers, primarily in sex-role “family” games that require the fulfillment of a certain role – the groom, the bride, the father, the mother, the child, etc., the chosen sex role is tested and fixed, reflecting various aspects of human relationships, including sexual. Such “family” games, depending on the awareness of children, cover a wide range of sex-role behavior of adults: from imitating the behavior of parents (father reading a newspaper in an armchair in front of the TV, mother-keeping household) to imitating sexual intercourse. With entering the school, new role models appear, the role of communication with peers is increasing. At this stage, the typical division of the group of students by gender. In many respects thanks to this, the requirements for manifestations of masculinity or femininity increase, finally fixing the chosen sexual role.
Stage III. Formation of psychosexual orientation. It begins at 7–10 years, ending by 20–25 years, entering into a period of mature sexuality, which is characterized by regular sex life with a regular partner or spouse.
If the first two stages of psychosexual development take place against a relatively “quiet” hormonal background, then at the third stage, the endocrine system, and in particular the sex glands, begins to peak and reach its maximum.
Formed personality, social consciousness, an adequate assessment of their abilities. Emancipation from the family takes place, a personal outlook is developed, higher emotions develop. In the absence of mutual understanding in a family, a teenager only in an informal peer group can get the information of interest to him and discuss his questions. The increasing role of natural environmental factors in combination with the secrecy of adolescents provides fertile ground for various kinds of violations of the formation of sexuality, which also contributes to the lack of adequate sex education.
The specificity of the stage is the formation of psychosexual orientations, which determine in the subsequent the choice of the object of attraction with its individual characteristics (gender, appearance, physique, behavior, etc.), the need to realize the attraction of a particular situation and a number of sequential actions, sometimes constituting an entire ritual .
The third stage can be divided into three stages, respectively, the formation of a platonic, erotic and sexual libido. On each of them two phases are clearly traced.
So, the platonic libido passes the first phase – “childish” love, the desire for spiritual intercourse – and the second phase, when they are realized during the joint preparation of lessons, studying at the same school desk, and showing signs of attention to the object of platonic hobby. For all its outward ephemerality, the second phase is very significant, because in the course of its passage the ability to draw the attention of the peers you like, get acquainted and communicate with them is formed. If this phase of libido formation does not occur, then romantic love remains not only unanswered, but unnoticed, and difficulties, doubts and self-doubt will be transferred to the later stages of libido formation, creating serious problems when trying to approach the potential partner. With harmonious development, at first individual elements of erotic fantasy are included in platonic love (the desire to be alone, the desire for touch and caress), which gradually increase, their range expands, and they occupy an increasing part of the teenager’s free time. In the transition from the platonic stage of libido to erotic adolescents, they begin to show an increasing interest in the intimate side of gender relations, erotic literature and films containing scenes of dating, explanations of love. But even with the brightest erotic fantasies, the transition to the second phase of this stage can be considered to be held only after their practical implementation in intimate caresses with a partner. At the erotic stage, the realization of desire more often happens without orgasm at the level of sexual frustrations, which encourages the expansion of the range of sexual activities and forces the transition to the last stage. Can also be practiced form of erotic realization, supported by orgasm: petting and masturbation.
However, while there is no sexual libido in sexual intercourse (phase 2), there is a possibility for various deviations from normal psychosexual development, which may further complicate the implementation of heterosexual coitus. Therefore, the smaller the time gap between the start of fantasy and realization, the more harmonious the formation stage of one or another component of the drive; on the contrary, the longer the realization of fantasies and dreams is postponed, the more fanciful and more difficult they become, becoming more and more disconnected from normative sexual contacts. As a result of an increased tendency to fantasize and delays in the realization of a libido due to social factors, women are more susceptible to deviations in psychosexual development.
The stage of formation of psychosexual orientations is normally peculiar, perceived by adults as frivolity and levity, change of love and ideals, sometimes the presence of several hobbies at once. However, this is nothing but the normal manifestations of sampling by trial and error of those signs, characteristics and nuances of platonic hobbies, erotic preferences and sexual orientations, which later will include the mechanism of “mindless” sexual attraction. The variety of such signs in the period of formation of sexuality in the future facilitates the choice of a spouse and the achievement of harmonious intimate relationships with him. On the contrary, “love from the first class” or unrequited love lasting for years is more often an indicator of the difficulties of sexual adaptation, which is manifested by a very narrow, limited individual choice that makes it difficult to form mature sexuality.
For all stages of psychosexual development, as well as for each stage of stage III, there are general patterns. The first of these is the phasing considered above. The second pattern is a change in the ratio of the role of biological and social in the development of human sexuality. In the process of psychosexual development, the biological determinacy of the stage of sexual self-awareness is relatively weakened during the formation of gender roles, when the relative importance of social factors increases, and is even more disguised at the stage of the development of psychosexual orientation, when the hormonal background determines only the intensity of sexuality.
Continuity and interrelation of stages (stages), as well as their violations, is the third regularity of psychosexual development. At each stage (stage) of the development of sexuality, there are certain inclinations of the next stage, therefore, for one reason or another, the loss of any of them distorts the course of the subsequent stages and, as a result, the formation of all sexuality.
The division of psychosexual development into stages is somewhat conditional, since sexual identity, sexual role and psychosexual orientations are closely interrelated and are moving structures that can change not only in the process of their formation, but throughout the whole life of a person. However, the foundations of all components of sexuality are laid when they become. These processes and their sequence are fully reflected in the presented concept.
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