The Oedipus Complex
Sigmund Freud coined the term “Oedipal complex” to refer to both the Oedipus and the Electra complexes in his theory of psychosexual stages of development. When a child is in the Phallic stage of development (ages 3-6), the erogenous regions of their body are where their source of libido (life force) is concentrated (Freud, 1905). Children go through this stage where they have an unconscious longing for their opposite-sex parent and feelings of jealously and jealousy for their same-sex parent. When the boy starts to identify with his father as a veiled means of obtaining the mother, the Oedipus complex is successfully overcome.
According to Sigmund Freud, the Oedipus complex develops during the Phallic stage of psychosexual development. It entails a youngster between the ages of 3 and 6 developing an unconscious sexual attachment to his mother while harbouring animosity toward his father (who he views as a rival). The Oedipus complex, or more accurately, conflict, emerges in the young boy as a result of his unconscious sexual (pleasant) yearning for his mother.
The father, who is the focus of the mother’s love and attention, is the target of envy and jealousy. His affections for the mother and his antagonism with the father cause him to fantasise about killing the father and joining the mother. Castration anxiety, or the illogical dread that the father will castrate (remove his penis) him as punishment, is brought on by the father-hatred feelings. The son empathises with the father in order to deal with his anxieties. This indicates that the son internalises or acquires the attitudes, traits, and values of his father (e.g. personality, gender role, masculine dad-type behaviours etc.). The father is no longer seen as an adversary but as a role model. Boys develop their superego and the male sex role through this connection with the attacker. In place of his yearning for his mother, the youngster substitutes a desire for other women.
History of the Oedipus Complex
Though he did not use the word “Oedipus complex” properly until 1910, Freud originally introduced the idea of the Oedipus complex in his 1899 book “The Interpretation of Dreams.” As he developed his theory of psychosexual development, the idea gained in significance. After the character in Sophocles’ “Oedipus Rex” who mistakenly kills his father and marries his mother, Freud gave the complex that name. According to a Greek myth, Oedipus was abandoned at infancy and is unable to identify his parents. He discovers who they really are only after having killed his father and married his mother.
How Does the Oedipus Complex Work?
The Oedipus complex is a term used in psychoanalytic theory to describe a child’s desire for sexual activity with the parent of the opposite sex, especially a boy’s focus on his mother. Through repression, this desire is withheld from conscious awareness, but Freud thought it nevertheless had an impact on a child’s behaviour and contributed to growth. According to Freud’s view, a child’s psychosexual development unfolds in a succession of stages. The subconscious mind is focused on pleasure associated with a certain bodily part at each level. These are the stages:
- Oral stage: From birth to 18 months
- Anal stage: From 18 months to three years
- Phallic stage: From ages three to five
- Latency: From ages five to 12
- Genital: From ages 12 to adulthood
The Oedipus complex, according to Freud, was crucial to the phallic stage of psychosexual development. 1 He also thought that in order to successfully complete this stage, a child had to identify with their same-sex parent, which eventually resulted in the formation of a mature sexual identity. Freud postulated that during this stage of development, the child will become hostile to the same-sex parent and develop a sexual desire to their opposite-sex parent. Freud believed that the boy wanted to possess his mother and take the place of his father, whom the boy saw as a rival for the mother’s love.
Signs of the Oedipus Complex
All children go through this process as a natural component of development, according to Freud. The following are some warning indicators of an Oedipus complex in children:
- Becoming overly attached to one parent
- Fixation on one parent
- Hostility toward the other parent
- Jealousy of one parent
- Possessiveness of one parent
Many of the behaviours that kids exhibit, according to Freud, are essentially a product of this complex. Examples of actions a youngster might take are:
- Acting angry or hostile toward the rival parent
- Becoming angry or jealous when the rival parent shows affection to the desired parent
- Indicating that they want to marry the desired parent
- Trying to get the attention of the desired parent.
The Electra complex
The female equivalent of the Oedipus complex is known as the Electra complex. It centres on a girl, between the ages of 3 and 6, who develops an unconscious sexual attachment to her father and is resentful against her mother. The hypothesis was created by Carl Jung in 1913. A young girl kid competes with her mother for her father’s sexual attention, according to Sigmund Freud, the creator of the Oedipus complex theory. But it was Carl Jung, who lived at the same time as Freud, who coined the phrase “Electra complex” in 1913. The Electra complex shares a name with the Oedipus complex, which was inspired by a Greek myth. Greek mythology states that Electra was the child of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Electra convinced her brother Orestes to assist her in killing both her mother and her mother’s lover after Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, assassinated Agamemnon.
The girl first feels close to her mother. She then finds she is penis-free. She feels “penis envy” and accuses her mother of “castrating” her. She tries to possess her father instead of her mother because she wants to sexually possess a parent but is unable to do it without a penis. She starts to have repressed sexual desires for her father at this point. She starts acting out against her mother and becomes obsessed with her father. She might rebuff her mother or give her father all of her attention. She eventually comes to the realisation that she doesn’t want to lose her mother’s love, so she imitates her mother’s behaviour by reattaching to her. She learns to conform to gender norms by imitating her mother.She will then start developing an attraction to guys who are not connected to her after she reaches puberty, according to Freud. According to Jung, some adults may never fully develop beyond the phallic stage or may revert to it, leaving them sexually tied to their parent.