phallic stage

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In psychoanalysis, the libidinal stage of psychosexual development from about 3–5 or 6 years of age, following the oral stage and the anal stage but before the latency period and the genital stage. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) introduced the concept late in his writings, in articles entitled ‘The Infantile Genital Organization’ (1923), ‘The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex’ (1924), and ‘Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction Between the Sexes’ (1925), all of which are in volume XIX of the Standard Edition (pp. 141–5, 173–9, 248–58). During the phallic stage, libido is centred on the genital organs, but the child, whether male or female, recognizes only the male organ and the difference between the sexes is interpreted as phallic versus castrated. It is during this stage that the castration complex predominates and the Oedipus complex flourishes and then dissolves. Also called the phallic phase. See also penis envy, phallic character, phallic woman.

Subjects: Psychology.

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