The Phallic Stage
strict or begin toilet training too early, Freud believed that an anal-retentive
personality develops in which the individual is stringent, orderly, rigid and
The Phallic Stage
During the phallic stage, the primary focus of the libido is on the genitals.
Children also discover the differences between males and females. Freud
also believed that boys begin to view their fathers as a rival for the mother’s
affections. The Oedipus complex describes these feelings of wanting to
possess the mother and the desire to replace the father. However, the child
also fears that he will be punished by the father for these feelings, a fear Freud
termed castration anxiety.
The term Electra complex has been used to described a similar set of feelings
experienced by young girls. Freud, however, believed that girls instead
experience penis envy.
Eventually, the child realizes begins to identify with the same-sex parent as a
means of vicariously possessing the other parent. For girls, however, Freud
believed that penis envy was never fully resolved and that all women remain
somewhat fixated on this stage. Psychologists such as Karen Horney disputed
this theory, calling it both inaccurate and demeaning to women. Instead, Horney
proposed that men experience feelings of inferiority because they cannot give
birth to children.
The Latent Period
During the latent period, the libido interests are suppressed. The development of
the egoand superego contribute to this period of calm. The stage begins around
the time that children enter into school and become more concerned with peer
relationships, hobbies, and other interests.
The latent period is a time of exploration in which the sexual energy is still
present, but it is directed into other areas such as intellectual pursuits and
social interactions. This stage is important in the development of social and
communication skills and self-confidence.