According to Sigmund Freud, all of our impulses are dictated by a sexual libido that moves through our bodies. In Freud's theory of psychosexual development, the phallic stage, also known as the Oedipal stage, is the third stage of development in which the child's main focus for pleasure is the genitals. This stage occurs from ages three to six and generally manifests as masturbating and genital fondling. Freud's theories are controversial for a number of reasons; his research was done with a very small group of patients while under the influence of cocaine and the patients were adults and research was based on their memories and dreams. Other notable psychologists, such as Carl Jung, dispute the theoretical basis of the psychosexual model because he believed that there are forces other then sexual desire that shape psychological development.
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The key event in this stage of development is the attraction to the parent of the opposite sex. Freud's theory stated that boys want to posses their mothers and have envy and fear of their father. Oedipus was a fictional man in Greek mythology who was unaware of the identities of his parents and without realising, killed his father and married his mother. Boys can experience a phenomena known as castration anxiety during this stage. This is when the boy feels fear of punishment for desiring his mother from his father.
This stage in development also brings girls into an attraction with their father. Girls want to posses their father and envy and fear their mother. According to Freud, a girl believes she once had a penis and that it was removed. He believes that she wishes to have a child with her father to compensate for this and she begins to envy the penis. This is known as penis envy.
Psychological Development and Disorder
If a child is able to successfully process his impulses and feelings, he will have learnt how to manage and control envy and aggression. This allows him to release the parent of the opposite sex from focus and begin to move onto the next stage of development in which he models after the same sex parent. If a child does not developmentally process these impulses and feelings a psychological disorder can develop.
Phallic fixation is a condition that can occur when there is trauma or conflict during this stage of development. Research has shown that phallic fixation has occurred in young boys who experienced serious conflict during masturbation. Phallic fixation can occur in adulthood and manifests for men and women as anxiety, guilty feelings about sex and a narcissistic personality. It can also inhibit sexual satisfaction. Freud implied that women always maintain a level of phallic fixation in feelings of envy and inferiority of men.
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