Genital stage

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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.[1]

The stage is initiated at puberty,[2] but may not be completed until well into the adult years.[3] Otto Fenichel considered genital primacy was the precondition for overcoming ambivalence and for whole-object love.[4]


The degree to which an individual has reached the genital level was seen by Freudians as inversely correlated with susceptibility to neurosis;[5] conversely, fixation on earlier psychosexual levels will hamper the development of normal sexual relationships.[6]


While the normal genital character was theoretically recognised as an ideal construct,[7] in practice the concept of the genital level could be fetishized into an addictive goal or commodity, not an experiential reality.[8]

Jacques Lacan wrote of “this absurd hymn to the harmony of the genital”[9] in vulgar Freudianism.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sigmund Freud, On Psychopathology (PFL 10) p. 78-9
  2. ^ "Freud's Psychosexual Development in Psychology 101 at AllPsych Online". Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  3. ^ P. T. Brown, 'Sexual Development' in R. Gregory ed., The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) p. 706-7
  4. ^ Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) p. 84 and p. 496
  5. ^ Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) p. 265
  6. ^ "Psychosexual Development". Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  7. ^ Otto Fenichel, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis (1946) p. 496
  8. ^ Erik Erikson, Childhood and Society (1973) p. 257
  9. ^ Jacques Lacan, Ecrits (1997) p. 245

Further Reading[edit]

Karl Abraham, 'Character Formation on the Genital Level of Libidinal Development', in Selected Papers (1927)