The Oedipal Phase (Ages 3–6)

  • Calvin A. Colarusso
Part of the Critical Issues in Psychiatry book series (CIPS)


Freud based his theory of development during this phase on the myth of Oedipus. In Sophocles’ tragedy, Oedipus unknowingly killed his father and married his mother. What we observe in young children between the ages of 3 and 6 is a persistent competition with the parent of the same sex for the attention and affection of the parent of the opposite sex (Freud, 1905). That is the essence of the Oedipal complex, nothing more, nothing less. However, that competition and desire must be understood from the vantage point of the physical and mental development of the 3-year-old, not the adult.


Genital Area Sexual Thought Oedipal Complex Neurotic Symptom Sexual Identity Formation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Calvin A. Colarusso
    • 1
  1. 1.School of MedicineUniversity of California at San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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