The genital stage in psychoanalysis is the term used by Sigmund Freud to describe the final stage of human psychosexual development, when the component instincts of previous stages are brought under the dominance of the reproductive organs.
The stage is initiated at puberty, but may not be completed until well into the adult years. Otto Fenichel considered genital primacy was the precondition for overcoming ambivalence and for whole-object love.
The degree to which an individual has reached the genital level was seen by Freudians as inversely correlated with susceptibility to neurosis; conversely, fixation on earlier psychosexual levels will hamper the development of normal sexual relationships.
While the normal genital character was theoretically recognised as an ideal construct, in practice the concept of the genital level could be fetishized into an addictive goal or commodity, not an experiential reality.
- Sigmund Freud, On Psychopathology (PFL 10) p. 78-9
- P. T. Brown, 'Sexual Development' in R. Gregory ed., The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) p. 706-7
- Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) p. 84 and p. 496
- Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) p. 265
- Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) p. 496
- Erik Erikson, Childhood and Society (1973) p. 257
- Jacques Lacan, Ecrits (1997) p. 245
Karl Abraham, 'Character Formation on the Genital Level of Libidinal Development', in Selected Papers (1927)
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