The Oral Phase (Ages 0–1)

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


Infancy, or the oral phase in Freud’s terminology, covers the first 12 to 18 months of life. This period of intense growth and development is currently the subject of great interest by researchers and clinicians alike, resulting in significant advances in knowledge and major theoretical change and controversy. The controversy arises in part because infancy is a preverbal phase, and thus our assumptions about mental activity during this time cannot be validated by the infant. This is the only phase of development in which this is true. By contrast, much of our knowledge of childhood, which was initially obtained from work with adults, was later confirmed (or refuted) by the direct observation and treatment of children who were able to tell us what they were thinking.


Anorexia Nervosa Psychoanalytic Theory Primary Caretaker Oral Phase Developmental Line 
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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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