The conception of children under 5 as “perverse polymorphs” this is a very striking aspect of the work of Sigmund Freud, creator of psychoanalysis.
In this article, we will describe what exactly this curious concept means, which is related to the potential to obtain sexual pleasure from any object early in life.
The Freudian concept of perversion
Freud asserted that the main characteristic of childhood sexuality is polymorphous perversion. To understand this concept, we must first define how perversion is defined in the work of the father of psychoanalysis.
For this author perversion is simply non-normative sexual conduct; in the context in which Freud lived, heterosexual intercourse was seen as normal, while virtually any other type of sexual behavior was seen as a deviation from mainstream morality. To a large extent, this idea is still valid today.
However, in Freud’s work, the view of “perversion” is not necessarily negative. Although rape or pedophilia, which makes the victim suffer, are forms of perversion, according to Freud’s definition. just like fetishism or homosexuality, Who considered abnormal behaviors but not pathological.
What does “evil polymorph” mean?
According to Freud, during the first years of their life, girls and boys obtain sexual gratification from a wide variety of sources. Instincts are directed towards any object that can provide pleasure; furthermore, stimulation should not be limited to the genitals, but all parts of the body are likely to receive gratification.
So, as we will explain in detail later, depending on the stage of psychosexual development of the offspring, they would obtain sexual pleasure by sucking on the mother’s nipple, holding back or expelling feces, and many other behaviors.
At the start of life, sexuality has not yet focused on the objects demanded by normative socialization, that is, fundamentally heterosexual relationships. It emerges from Freud’s work that this type of sexual education it depends more on culture than biologyThus, each company or group would strengthen these models to a different extent.
This means that young children lack a sexual and gender identity. Once the latency period has passed, that is, with the onset of puberty, sexual gratification is gradually redirected towards heterosexual intercourse with the ultimate goal of reproduction. There is a clear relationship between this fact and the development of morality or the superego.
So, describe children as “evil polymorphs” implies that they are able to experience sexual pleasure in many different ways that deviate from the established social norm. This includes sexual orientation; thus, we could say that according to Freud in the early stages of life everyone is bisexual or even pansexual.
Stages of psychosexual development
Psychoanalytic theory is deeply rooted the five stages of psychosexual development described by Freud. According to this author, people go through these phases in the process towards puberty and adolescence, a period when sexuality is definitively configured.
In each of these phases, the sexual energy is concentrated on a different erogenous zone: the mouth, the anus or the genitals. If the satisfaction of needs is insufficient or excessive at any of these stages, there is the risk of occurrence of a psychological “fixation”; this would imply the appearance of neuroses and concrete perversions.
1. Oral phase
The first phase of sexual development corresponds approximately to the first year of life. During this period, the baby takes pleasure by the mouth, for example by inserting objects, which also allows him to explore his environment. It dominates the psychic structure, so the operation is based on the pleasure principle.
Fixation on the oral phase would lead to the emergence of psychological traits such as immaturity, passivity and manipulability. At the sexual level, perversions related to the mouth would develop, such as the mouth focus of pleasure on kissing, oral sex or cunnilingus.
2. Anal phase
The anal stage occurs between the second and fourth year of life. During this time, toddlers learn to control their personal hygiene, including the retention and expulsion of feces and urine. According to Freud, in the anal phase, sexual pleasure is obtained from the elimination of feces through the intestinal and urinary tract.
If there is fixation at this stage of development, obsessive-compulsive traits and behaviors may appear (if the parental emphasis on cleanliness is excessive) or a tendency to lack organization, self-indulgence and rebellion. Lia (otherwise). As for sexuality, coprophilia and urophilia would be linked to the anal phase.
3. Phallic phase
Between the ages of three and six, the genitals become the main erogenous zone. At this age, girls and boys become aware of their own body and that of others, and therefore of the differentiation of sex and gender. The famous Oedipus and Electra complexes (Proposed by Carl Jung and rejected by Freud) would occur during this phase.
Compulsive masturbation is the perversion that can be most clearly linked to the phallic phase. The emphasis would be on the pleasure obtained through the penis or the clitoris, depending on the biological sex of the person.
4. Latency phase
Between the anal phase and puberty (that is to say between 6 and 10 years old), the sexual impulses are silenced and the energy is redirected towards social interaction, learning, leisure. During this period, the character acquired during the preceding psychosexual stages consolidates.
Fixations in the lag phase are considered less common than in other phases. when they arrive they tend to relate to intense sexual frustration and / or with an inability to concentrate pleasure on activities deemed acceptable by the social context of the individual.
5. Genital phase
Freud believed that after puberty people reach the final stage of psychosexual development: the genital phase, in which we will remain throughout adulthood. The reward is again focused on the genitals, although in this case, normalcy involves indulging yourself through other people, not alone.
Failures in the progression of this period can interfere with the acquisition of adaptive sexual patterns. So, it is common for them to appear sexual dysfunctions such as arousal difficulties (Mainly erection and lubrication, depending on sex) in intercourse, and also that it is not satisfactory.