genital stage

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In psychoanalysis, the final libidinal stage of psychosexual development coming after the oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage, and latency period. The genital stage is characterized by a focus of libido on the genital area, and it emerges during puberty, when the Oedipus complex reappears and is overcome with greater or lesser success through mature object-choices. The concept was developed by Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) in a section added in 1915 to his book Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), where he suggested that its roots lie in childhood: ‘The only difference lies in the fact that in childhood the combination of the component instincts and their subordination under the primacy of the genitals have been effected only very incompletely or not at all. Thus the establishment of that primacy in the service of reproduction is the last phase through which the organization of sexuality passes’ (Standard Edition, VII, pp. 130–243, at p. 199). Also called the genital phase. See also genital character, genital love, pregenital.

Subjects: Psychology.

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