How Freud’s 5 Stages of Psychosexual Development relate to hoarding

minimalism introducing psychology book hoarding theory science-1

One of my own personal theories is that some people are just ‘born minimalists’. Looking back over my childhood I believe I’m one of those people. During my research I’ve uncovered plenty of examples and psychological theories to support this. And, on the other hand, people can also be born hoarders – well, kind of. According to Freud, the tendency to hoard can be traced back to childhood.

Sigmund Freud came up with the 5 Stages of Psychosexual Development we all go through while growing up. Our experiences during that time will affect our future selves.

STAGES OF PSYCHOSEXUAL DEVELOPMENT BY FREUD

  • Age 0-2 Oral stage
  • Age 2-3 Anal stage
  • Age 3-6 Phallic stage
  • Age 6-11 Latent stage
  • Age 11+ Genital stage

While I’m sure there are lessons to be learnt from the other stages, the phase that relates to minimalism – or, in this case, hoarding – is at the age of 2-3 years: what Freud calls the Anal stage.

This is when a child takes its first steps to independence. It’s while potty training that a child can gain confidence and begin making decisions for itself. At this age children they learn to ‘let things go’. If parents are strict about potty training, the child may be reluctant to give up anything in the future.

You may have heard of the phrase ‘anally retentive’? Well, this second phase of childhood development is when someone begin to exhibit such traits. As such, they may develop hoarding tendencies later in life. A person is simply keeping hold of things because, as adults, they are able to make the decision for themselves. They are no longer being ‘forced’ to give it up.

It’s possible that your experience of potty training from the ages of 2-3 may impact your life as a minimalist. You may find it easy to let things go while decluttering. Or minimising your ‘hoard’ may be a more difficult process for you. Nonetheless, it can be done!

Have a read of our blog posts on the Practice of Minimalism for practical tips.

Benson, N. C., (2007) Introducing Psychology, London, Icon Books Ltd.