freud: oral, anal, phallic

Freud proposed three developmental stages.The "oral stage" related most directly to the unmediated satisfaction of need. With the anal phase, the child learns how systems of substitution can work. The two phases are not clearly divided, but the oral "logically" and developmentally precedes the anal; the anal is the precedent of the stable symbolic systems of exchange that constitute the order of the family, the group, and the culture. The phallic stage concentrates attention on the genital region of the body, but it is also a means of attaching phallic significance to a wide range of objects as well as to other regions of the body. In art, the phallic corresponds to the anamorphic perception of the "image within the image" (or, more generally, the "idea within the idea" or "story within the story").


The transition from oral to anal phase marks the point at which the child is able to differentiate demands,sources of satisfaction, and the self as a separate entity. Lacan has labeled this as the "mirror stage."

The combination of oral and anal issues constitutes the basis for the "network of symbolic relations"that constitutes culture and the majority of conscious social life, including self-image, role-playing, and expression of personality.

With the phallic awareness of the inability of the network of symbolic relations to satisfy desire, the phallic subject is able to use parts of the symbolic network to reorganize and reorient to elements concealed within the network which can act as "gateways" to objects of desire that become, at the same time, the cause of desire.

© 2012, Donald Kunze, all rights reserved