in psychoanalytic personality theory, the period of psychosexual development in children, extending from about age 5 to the beginning of adolescence at age 12, during which the apparent cessation of sexual preoccupation during this period stems from a strong, aggressive blockade of libidinal and sexual impulses in an effort to avoid oedipal relationships; during this phase, boys and girls are inclined to choose friends and join groups of their own sex.
Synonym: latency period.
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