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Failure to adequately adapt to the demands of these different stages could result in libidinal energy becoming 'dammed up' or fixated in these stages, producing certain pathological character traits in adulthood.Thus the psychopathologized individual for Freud was an immature individual, and the goal of psychoanalysis was to bring these fixations to conscious awareness so that the libido energy would be freed up and available for conscious use in some sort of constructive sublimation.A person may have a desire for sex, but not have the opportunity to act on that desire, or may on personal, moral or religious reasons refrain from acting on the urge.Psychologically, a person's urge can be repressed or sublimated.Other causes include experience of sexual abuse, assault, trauma, or neglect, body image issues and anxiety about engaging in sexual activity.

Duality (opposition) creates the energy (or libido) of the psyche, which Jung asserts expresses itself only through symbols: "It is the energy that manifests itself in the life process and is perceived subjectively as striving and desire." (Ellenberger, 697) Defined more narrowly, libido also refers to an individual's urge to engage in sexual activity, and its antonym is the force of destruction termed mortido or destrudo.

It is this need to conform to society and control the libido that leads to tension and disturbance in the individual, prompting the use of ego defenses to dissipate the psychic energy of these unmet and mostly unconscious needs into other forms. A primary goal of psychoanalysis is to bring the drives of the id into consciousness, allowing them to be met directly and thus reducing the patient's reliance on ego defenses.

Freud viewed libido as passing through a series of developmental stages within the individual.

Problems can arise from disparity of sexual desires between partners, or poor communication between partners of sexual needs and preferences.

It is the instinct energy or force, contained in what Freud called the id, the strictly unconscious structure of the psyche.

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