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latency period


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In psychoanalysis, a period of development from the dissolution of the Oedipus complex at the end of the phallic stage around 5 or 6 years of age until the genital stage at puberty. It is characterized by a decrease in sexual activity, a decline in sexual investment in object relations, and the emergence of emotions such as shame and disgust. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) presented the concept in its fully developed form in 1924 in an article entitled ‘The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex’ (Standard Edition, XIX, pp. 173–9). He attributed the term latency period to his friend, the German physician Wilhelm Fliess (1858–1928), and he used the term period rather than stage because no new organization of sexuality takes place at this time—it is not a turning point. See also castration complex.

Subjects: Psychology.


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