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Essay on Sex and Human Behavior

Date:  2021-05-24 13:43:51
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Sex is an integral part of human nature. Without it, the human race would be rendered extinct since there would be no procreation. Sex is a provocative topic among human beings mainly because, apart from the procreation, pleasure and intimacy it affords, it has moral implications since it goes beyond the dominant evolutionary instinct of procreation (Moore, 1997). It has something to do with human behavior as proposed by the proponents of the psychoanalytic theory. For a long time, psychoanalysis has been utilized as a form of psychotherapy in an attempt to understand sex and human behavior, so as to promote sex therapy, emotional healing and recovery (Berry, 2013). Psychoanalysis, which was founded by Sigmund Freud, is defined by Stolorow (2013) as a combination of therapeutic techniques and psychological theories whose main idea is that since each person possesses unconscious desires, feelings and thoughts, the unconscious drives largely influence their behavior. Psychoanalysis encompasses Freuds works, theories and research that heavily relied on case studies and observations in an effort to understand human behavior (Stolorow, 2013). Although some people considered Freuds ideas shocking then, his work has continued to be greatly influential in disciplines such as psychology, literature, anthropology, art and sociology (Moore, 1997). Through psychoanalysis, Freud reevaluated the role of sex in human behavior. This paper applies psychoanalysis in an attempt to understand how sex influences people to behave the way they do.

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Psychoanalysis was mainly guided by the psychoanalytic theory. According to Ruonakoski (2015), the psychoanalytic theory is all about the concept of the dynamics of personality organization and development. Although this theory was first laid down by Sigmund Freud in the 19th century, it was gradually refined and became prominent after the first two thirds of the 20th century (Stolorow, 2013). The theory suggests that early childhood experiences are very influential in the development of personality traits that are manifested later in life. The hidden desires are what make people behave the way they do. Freud suggested that the mind has three levels. The first level is the conscious mind which encompasses the reality that an individual is aware of and can rationally talk about; the second is the preconscious mind which includes what one can retrieve from their memory if required; and the third is the unconscious mind which harbors the unpleasant or unacceptable feelings, urges, thoughts and memories which are beyond ones conscious awareness (Berry, 2013). The unconscious mind, for example, may harbor the irrational desire to have sex but the preconscious helps the individual to remember a previous nasty sexual experience while the conscious mind brings the individual back to the reality; that it is not possible to have sex at that particular time and place. Freud affirmed that although the individual is unaware, the unconscious mind is the most influential of human behavior (Ruonakoski, 2015). He argued that whatever an individual goes through during childhood may lead to conflicts between the unconscious and conscious mind in future sexual behavior and personality development.

Sigmund Freud integrated the psychosexual development theory to bring about the idea that the main psychological problem affecting mankind was sexual repression (Berry, 2013). The psychosexual theory, which is characterized by five stages, suggested that the constriction and repression of sexual desires would later be manifested in adulthood in form of different personality traits. The first stage of the psychosexual approach is the oral stage which, according to Freud, occurs between the time a child is born and one and a half years of age (Ruonakoski, 2015). During this stage, the child derives pleasure from sucking and tasting. Fixation at this stage leads to habits such as smoking, nail-biting, overeating and thumb-sucking during adulthood. Personality traits such as independence and sanguinity or hostility and cynicism may also develop as a result of fixation to the oral stage.

The second stage in the psychosexual theory of development is the anal stage; which occurs between the age of eighteen months and three years. During this stage, the child derives pleasure from relieving themselves. They focus on their bladder and bowels. Fixation at this stage leads to personality features such as excessive neatness and precision, or being destructive and disorganized (Berry, 2013). The next is the phallic stage. At this stage, the child derives pleasure from the genital organs (Ruonakoski, 2015). They begin to develop sexual feelings for their parents of the opposite sex: the girl for her father and the boy for his mother. The girl experiences what is known as the Electra complex while the boy experiences the Oedipus complex (Berry, 2013). However, these feelings have to be repressed. Fixation leads to promiscuity in girls and pride in sexuality and masculinity in boys: both of which are signs of high or low self-esteem.

The fourth is the latency stage which, according to Freuds psychosexual theory, occurs between the ages of six and eleven years and is characterized by a repression of the sexual feelings which helps pave way for the development of social skills (Moore, 1997). If one is fixated at this stage, they are unable to socialize accordingly with peers and family. They develop antisocial personality characteristics and disorders but if their needs are fully met, they become overly social (Ruonakoski, 2015). The genital is the final stage which begins at the age of eleven and ends at the age of eighteen. At this stage, the individual is strongly interested in another of the opposite sex (Berry, 2013). According to the psychosexual theory, if an individual is not fixated in any of the five stages, they develop into well-balanced human beings. However, if they get fixation at a certain stage, the personality traits that they develop coincide with the focus of that specific age.

Sigmund Freud further applied the structural model of personality in an attempt to explain the behavior of individuals in relation to the sex drives and personality development. He proposed that personality consists of three main elements: the id, the ego and the superego (Berry, 2013). Freud suggested that the Id, which contains the primal desires, seeks immediate pleasure and sexual desire. Failure to satisfy this need may lead to tension and anxiety. It is the id that dictates the desire to have sex there and then. If this is not fulfilled, the individual may resort to masturbation and hysteria. It is important to note that the demands of the id are primitive, outrageous and socially unacceptable. The ego helps the person strike a balance between the ideal and primal urges in a way that is realistic and socially acceptable. If the desire to have sex strikes, for example, the ego comes up with a reasonable and realistic way of fulfilling the desire such as delaying the gratification until an appropriate place and time. The third component, the superego, contains ones values and ideals. Its main duty is to suppress any unacceptable desire of the id. The super ego also struggles to have the ego focus on idealistic standards. Each of these components contributes to personality. However, they do not work separately but combine to form complex human behaviors. Freud suggested that the ability to balance the three components leads to a healthy personality. Their ability to work together is therefore what determines the behaviors of individuals. Sigmund Freud went on to offer a set of defense mechanisms that an individual applies to prevent sexual desires from violating the expectations of the ego. The work of Freud centered on how the ego defended itself against unacceptable impulses as it tried to avoid a conflict between it, the id and the superego (Berry, 2013). Defense mechanisms, which are mainly triggered by anxiety, are unconscious and a distortion of reality in a bid to get rid of anxiety. They include denial, intellectualization, displacement, repression, reaction formation, regression, suppression and sublimation (Stolorow, 2013). The defense mechanisms, which are under the unconscious control, mainly prevent anxiety disorders in a normal and natural way.

In conclusion, it is clear that Freud attributes all human behavior to repressed sexual desires right from infancy. The sexual drive, which is embodied in Eros, determines personality development and sexual behavior (Berry, 2013). Sigmund Freud envisioned adult behavior as stemming from early childhood sexually-based traumatic experiences that were a result of the inability to successfully pass through the five psychosexual stages. During early life, babies are driven by primitive sexual drives and immediate gratification as dictated by the id. The ego and the super ego then work hand in hand with the id to ensure a well behaved person. Freud also incorporated the aspects of the conscious, preconscious and unconscious levels of the mind as determining sexual desires and consequent behavior. According to the ideas proposed by Sigmund Freud, therefore, every human behavior is influenced by sex and hidden sexual desires.

References

Berry, M. D. (2013). The History and Evolution of Sex Therapy and Its Relationship to Psychoanalysis. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 10(1), 53-74.

Moore, H. L. (1997). Sex, Symbolism, and Psychoanalysis. Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 9(1), 68-95.

Ruonakoski, E. (2015). Interdisciplinarity in the Second Sex: Between Phenomenology and Psychoanalysis. In Simone de BeauvoirA Humanist Thinker (pp. 41-56). Brill.

Stolorow, R. D. (2013). Intersubjective-Systems Theory: A Phenomenological-Contextualist Sychoanalytic Perspective. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 23(4), 383-389.

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