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The Latency Period


The Latency Period (6-12 years of age) has its origin in the dissolution of the Oedipus Complex, which took place at the phallic stage.

In "The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex" (1924d) Freud says: "It has not yet become clear, however, what it is that brings about its destruction. Analyses seem to show that it is the experience of painful disappointments (...) the absence of the satisfaction hoped for, the continued denial of the desired baby, must in the end lead the small lover to turn away from his hopless longing. In this way the Oedipus Complex would go to its destruction from its lack of success, from the effects of its internal impossibility. Another view is that the Oedipus Complex must collapse because the time has come for its desintegration, just as the milk-teeth fall out when the permanent ones begin to grow" [SE, XIX, 173, b]

Even though this period constitutes a pause in the evolution of sexuality, this does not necessarily mean that the child will have no sexual interest until puberty is reached, but rather that no new organization of sexuality will develop during this period.

The emergence of feelings of shame and disgust, identification with the parents, intensification of repression and the development of sublimations are all characteristic of the latency period.


Freud, S.

  • Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905d) [SE, VII, 176-179] - Buy this book
  • "The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex" (1924d) [SE, XIX, 173, b]

Brenner, C. - An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis - Buy this book

Laplanche, J. & Pontalis, J.-B. - The Language of Psychoanalysis, London, KARNAC, 1988 - Buy this book

Moore, B. E. & Fine, B. D. - Psychoanalytic Terms & Concepts, New Haven, The American Psychoanalytic Association and Yale University Press, 1990 - Buy this book

Glossary/ Index Oral Stage Anal Stage Phallic Stage Genital Stage These Books