Understanding the Phallic Stage of Development: Key Tasks and Implications for Psychological Health

Phallic Stage (3-6 years)

Freud’s third stage of development, when the genitals becomes the focus of concern and pleasure

The phallic stage is the third stage of psychosexual development according to Freud’s theory of human development. This stage typically occurs from the ages of 3 to 6 years. During this stage, the child’s focus is on their genital area and their own body.

During the phallic stage, there are some key developmental tasks that children must accomplish in order to move on to the next stage of development. The first is the resolution of the Oedipus complex for boys and the Electra complex for girls. These are both related to the child’s attraction to the opposite-gender parent and jealousy toward the same-gender parent.

For boys, the Oedipus complex involves a desire for their mother and a wish to eliminate their father as a rival. This is followed by anxiety and guilt over these feelings and a subsequent identification with the father. For girls, the Electra complex involves a desire for their father and jealousy toward their mother, followed by the resolution of these feelings through identification with the mother.

Another task of the phallic stage is the development of the superego, or internalized moral standards. This involves the child learning right from wrong and incorporating societal values and norms.

If the developmental tasks of the phallic stage are not successfully resolved, it can result in psychological problems later in life such as an inability to form healthy romantic relationships or feelings of guilt and shame related to sex.

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