The phallic stage of psychosexual development is where children become fascinated with genitals. They begin to explore and manipulate their own genitals, while becoming curious about the opposite sex's genitals. Boys develop an Oedipus complex, and develop castration anxiety. Meanwhile, girls develop the Electra complex, and have penis envy during this developmental stage.
This stage of psychosexual development occurs from the ages of 3 to 6 years old.
In the Oedipus complex, a male child's love for his mother takes on sexual overtones. He may want to cuddle and caress her out of sexual attraction, and comes to compete against and become jealous of his father.
The child wants to do away with his father, and fears that his father must want to do away with him. This fear is called castration anxiety, and it becomes more intense when he recognizes that girls lack protruding genitals and thus appear castrated. Castration anxiety induces the child to repress his desire for his mother and consciously stop competing with his father.
Fixations from this stage in development can lead to phallic fixation for the male. Men try to seduce as many women as possible to show they haven't been castrated, and try to assert their masculinity by being extremely successful.
The Electra complex describes how a girl's bond with her mother weakens. They develop a sexual attraction for their father, and recognize that their father has a penis, while they do not. They seem to blame their mother for their castrated condition and envy their fathers for having a protruding organ.
Freud believed that girls develop penis envy, where a girl desires to have a penis and the societal benefits that accompany it.
Women who are fixated at the phallic stage may exhibit a seductive flirtatious interaction style toward men, but deny its sexual overtones.
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