Oedipus complex

Oedipus complex

Overview
In psychoanalytic theory
Psychoanalytic theory
Psychoanalytic theory refers to the definition and dynamics of personality development which underlie and guide psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy. First laid out by Sigmund Freud, psychoanalytic theory has undergone many refinements since his work...

, the term Oedipus complex denotes the emotions and ideas that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via dynamic repression, that concentrate upon a boy’s desire
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

 to sexually possess his mother, and kill his father. Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

, who coined the term "Oedipus complex", believed that the Oedipus complex is a desire for the mother in both sexes (he believed that girls have a homosexual attraction towards their mother); Freud deprecated the term "Electra Complex
Electra complex
In Neo-Freudian psychology, the Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Gustav Jung, is a girl’s psychosexual competition with mother for possession of father. In the course of her psychosexual development, the complex is the girl’s phallic stage formation of a discrete sexual identity; a boy’s...

", a term which was introduced by Carl Gustav Jung, although some books still erroneously attribute the term to Freud.
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In psychoanalytic theory
Psychoanalytic theory
Psychoanalytic theory refers to the definition and dynamics of personality development which underlie and guide psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy. First laid out by Sigmund Freud, psychoanalytic theory has undergone many refinements since his work...

, the term Oedipus complex denotes the emotions and ideas that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via dynamic repression, that concentrate upon a boy’s desire
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

 to sexually possess his mother, and kill his father. Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

, who coined the term "Oedipus complex", believed that the Oedipus complex is a desire for the mother in both sexes (he believed that girls have a homosexual attraction towards their mother); Freud deprecated the term "Electra Complex
Electra complex
In Neo-Freudian psychology, the Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Gustav Jung, is a girl’s psychosexual competition with mother for possession of father. In the course of her psychosexual development, the complex is the girl’s phallic stage formation of a discrete sexual identity; a boy’s...

", a term which was introduced by Carl Gustav Jung, although some books still erroneously attribute the term to Freud. The Oedipus complex occurs in the third — phallic stage (ages 3–6) — of five psychosexual development
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

 stages: (i) the Oral
Oral stage
In Freudian psychoanalysis, the term oral stage denotes the first psychosexual development stage wherein the mouth of the infant is his or her primary erogenous zone...

, (ii) the Anal
Anal stage
The anal stage, in Freudian psychology, is the period of human development occurring at about one to two years of age. Around this age, the child begins to toilet train, which brings about the child's fascination in the erogenous zone of the anus...

, (iii) the Phallic
Phallic stage
In Freudian psychology, the Phallic stage is the third stage of psychosexual development, spanning the ages of three to six years, wherein the infant’s libido centers upon his or her genitalia as the erogenous zone...

, (iv) the Latent, and (v) the Genital
Genital stage
The genital stage in psychology is the term used by Sigmund Freud to describe the final stage of human psychosexual development. This stage begins at the start of puberty when sexual urges are once again awakened. Through the lessons learned during the previous stages, adolescents direct their...

 — in which the source libido
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

 pleasure is in a different erogenous zone
Erogenous zone
An erogenous zone is an area of the human body that has heightened sensitivity, the stimulation of which may result in the production of erotic sensations or sexual excitement.People have erogenous zones all over their bodies, but which areas are more sensitive than others vary...

 of the infant’s body.

In classical, Freudian psychoanalytic
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

 theory, the child’s identification with the same-sex parent is the successful resolution of the Oedipus complex and of the Electra complex; his and her key psychological experience to developing a mature sexual role
Gender role
Gender roles refer to the set of social and behavioral norms that are considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex in the context of a specific culture, which differ widely between cultures and over time...

 and identity
Identity (social science)
Identity is a term used to describe a person's conception and expression of their individuality or group affiliations . The term is used more specifically in psychology and sociology, and is given a great deal of attention in social psychology...

. Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 further proposed that girls and boys resolved their complexes
Complex (psychology)
A complex is a core pattern of emotions, memories, perceptions, and wishes in the personal unconscious organized around a common theme, such as power or status...

 differently — he via castration anxiety
Castration anxiety
Castration anxiety is the fear of emasculation in both the literal and metaphorical sense.-Literal:Castration anxiety is the conscious or unconscious fear of losing all or part of the sex organs, or the function of such....

, she via penis envy
Penis envy
Penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the theorized reaction of a girl during her psychosexual development to the realization that she does not have a penis....

; and that unsuccessful resolutions might lead to neurosis
Neurosis
Neurosis is a class of functional mental disorders involving distress but neither delusions nor hallucinations, whereby behavior is not outside socially acceptable norms. It is also known as psychoneurosis or neurotic disorder, and thus those suffering from it are said to be neurotic...

, paedophilia, and homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

. Hence, men and women who are fixated
Fixation (psychology)
Fixation: 'concept originated by Sigmund Freud to denote the persistence of anachronistic sexual traits'. Subsequently '"Fixation" acquired a broader connotation...

 in the Oedipal and Electra stages of their psychosexual development
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

 might be considered “mother-fixated” and “father-fixated” as revealed when the mate (sexual partner) resembles the mother or the father.

Background



As a Freudian
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 psychological
Ego psychology
Ego psychology is a school of psychoanalysis rooted in Sigmund Freud's structural id-ego-superego model of the mind.An individual interacts with the external world as well as responds to internal forces. Many psychoanalysts use a theoretical construct called the ego to explain how that is done...

 metaphor describing son–father psychosexual competition for possession of mother, the Oedipus complex derives from the 5th-century BC Greek mythologic
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 character Oedipus
Oedipus
Oedipus was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his father and marry his mother, and thus brought disaster on his city and family...

, who unwittingly kills his father, Laius
Laius
In Greek mythology, King Laius, or Laios of Thebes was a divine hero and key personage in the Theban founding myth. Son of Labdacus, he was raised by the regent Lycus after the death of his father.-Abduction of Chrysippus:...

, and marries his mother, Jocasta
Jocasta
In Greek mythology, Jocasta, also known as Jocaste , Epikastê, or Iokastê was a daughter of Menoeceus and Queen consort of Thebes, Greece. She was the wife of Laius. Wife and mother of Oedipus by Laius, and both mother and grandmother of Antigone, Eteocles, Polynices and Ismene by Oedipus...

, (cf. Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles
Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

, ca. 429 BC). As a psychiatrist
Psychiatry
Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study and treatment of mental disorders. These mental disorders include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities...

, Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 (1856–1939) proposed that the Oedipus complex is a universal, psychological phenomenon innate (phylogenetic
Phylogenetics
In biology, phylogenetics is the study of evolutionary relatedness among groups of organisms , which is discovered through molecular sequencing data and morphological data matrices...

) to human beings, and the cause of much unconscious guilt; Freud thus described the man Oedipus
Oedipus
Oedipus was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his father and marry his mother, and thus brought disaster on his city and family...

:
In classical psychoanalytic
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

 theory, the Oedipus complex occurs during the phallic stage
Phallic stage
In Freudian psychology, the Phallic stage is the third stage of psychosexual development, spanning the ages of three to six years, wherein the infant’s libido centers upon his or her genitalia as the erogenous zone...

 of psychosexual development
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

 (age 3–6 years) when also occurs the formation of the libido
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

 and the ego; yet it might manifest itself at an earlier age.

Oedipal theoretic evolution


The six-stage chronology of Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

’s theoretic evolution of the Oedipus complex is:
  • Stage 1. 1897–1909. After his father’s death in 1896, and having seen the play Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles
    Sophocles
    Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

    , Freud begins using the term “Oedipus”.
  • Stage 2. 1909–1914. Proposes that Oedipal desire
    Libido
    Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

     is the “nuclear complex” of all neuroses; first usage of “Oedipus complex” in 1910.
  • Stage 3. 1914–1918. Considers paternal and maternal incest
    Incest
    Incest is sexual intercourse between close relatives that is usually illegal in the jurisdiction where it takes place and/or is conventionally considered a taboo. The term may apply to sexual activities between: individuals of close "blood relationship"; members of the same household; step...

    .
  • Stage 4. 1919–1926. Complete Oedipus complex; identification
    Identification
    Identification or Identify may refer to:* Body identification* Combat Identification* Eyewitness identification* Forensic identification* Gender identity* Hazard Identification...

     and bisexuality
    Bisexuality
    Bisexuality is sexual behavior or an orientation involving physical or romantic attraction to both males and females, especially with regard to men and women. It is one of the three main classifications of sexual orientation, along with a heterosexual and a homosexual orientation, all a part of the...

     are conceptually evident in later works.
  • Stage 5. 1926–1931. Applies the Oedipal theory to religion and custom
    Custom
    Custom may refer to:* Convention , a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted rules, norms, standards or criteria, often taking the form of a custom* Customization , anything made or modified to personal taste...

    .
  • Stage 6. 1931–1938. Investigates the “feminine Oedipus attitude” and “negative Oedipus complex”; later the “Electra complex”.

The Oedipus complex



In the phallic stage
Phallic stage
In Freudian psychology, the Phallic stage is the third stage of psychosexual development, spanning the ages of three to six years, wherein the infant’s libido centers upon his or her genitalia as the erogenous zone...

, a boy’s decisive psychosexual experience is the Oedipus complex — his son–father competition for possession of mother. It is in this third stage of psychosexual development
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

 (ages 3–6) that the child’s genitalia are his or her primary erogenous zone
Erogenous zone
An erogenous zone is an area of the human body that has heightened sensitivity, the stimulation of which may result in the production of erotic sensations or sexual excitement.People have erogenous zones all over their bodies, but which areas are more sensitive than others vary...

; thus, when children become aware of their bodies, the bodies of other children, and the bodies of their parents, they gratify physical curiosity by undressing and exploring themselves, each other, and their genitals, so learning the anatomic
Human anatomy
Human anatomy is primarily the scientific study of the morphology of the human body. Anatomy is subdivided into gross anatomy and microscopic anatomy. Gross anatomy is the study of anatomical structures that can be seen by the naked eye...

 differences between “male” and “female” and the gender
Gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

 differences between “boy” and “girl”.

Psychosexual infantilism — Despite mother being the parent who primarily gratifies the child’s desires
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

, the child begins forming a discrete sexual identity — “boy”, “girl” — that alters the dynamics of the parent and child relationship; the parents become objects of infantile libidinal
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

 energy. The boy directs his libido (sexual desire) upon his mother, and directs jealousy and emotional rivalry against his father — because it is he who sleeps with his mother. Moreover, to facilitate union with mother, the boy’s id wants to kill father (as did Oedipus
Oedipus
Oedipus was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his father and marry his mother, and thus brought disaster on his city and family...

), but the pragmatic ego, based upon the reality principle
Reality principle
In Freudian psychology, the reality principle is the psychoanalytic concept describing circumstantial reality compelling a man or a woman to defer instant gratification...

, knows that the father is the stronger of the two males competing to possess the one female. Nonetheless, the boy remains ambivalent about his father’s place in the family, which is manifested as fear of castration
Castration anxiety
Castration anxiety is the fear of emasculation in both the literal and metaphorical sense.-Literal:Castration anxiety is the conscious or unconscious fear of losing all or part of the sex organs, or the function of such....

 by the physically greater father; the fear is an irrational, subconscious manifestation of the infantile Id.

Psycho-logic defense — In both sexes, defense mechanisms provide transitory resolutions of the conflict between the drives of the Id and the drives of the Ego. The first defense mechanism is repression
Psychological repression
Psychological repression, also psychic repression or simply repression, is the psychological attempt by an individual to repel one's own desires and impulses towards pleasurable instincts by excluding the desire from one's consciousness and holding or subduing it in the unconscious...

, the blocking of memories, emotional impulses, and ideas from the conscious mind; yet its action does not resolve the Id–Ego conflict. The second defense mechanism is identification, by which the child incorporates, to his or her ego, the personality characteristics of the same-sex parent; in so adapting, the boy diminishes his castration anxiety
Castration anxiety
Castration anxiety is the fear of emasculation in both the literal and metaphorical sense.-Literal:Castration anxiety is the conscious or unconscious fear of losing all or part of the sex organs, or the function of such....

, because his likeness to father protects him from father’s wrath in their maternal rivalry; by so adapting, the girl facilitates identifying with mother, who understands that, in being females, neither of them possesses a penis, and thus are not antagonists.

Dénouement — Unresolved son–father competition for the psycho-sexual possession mother might result in a phallic stage
Phallic stage
In Freudian psychology, the Phallic stage is the third stage of psychosexual development, spanning the ages of three to six years, wherein the infant’s libido centers upon his or her genitalia as the erogenous zone...

 fixation
Fixation (psychology)
Fixation: 'concept originated by Sigmund Freud to denote the persistence of anachronistic sexual traits'. Subsequently '"Fixation" acquired a broader connotation...

 conducive to a boy becoming an aggressive, over-ambitious, vain man. Therefore, the satisfactory parental handling and resolution of the Oedipus complex are most important in developing the male infantile super-ego, because, by identifying with a parent, the boy internalizes
Internalization
Internalization has different definitions depending on the field that the term is used in. Internalization is the opposite of externalization.- General :...

 Morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

, thereby, he chooses to comply with societal rules, rather than reflexively complying in fear of punishment.

Oedipal case study


In Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year-old Boy (1909), the case study of the equinophobic
Equinophobia
Equinophobia or hippophobia is a psychological fear of horses, derived from the Greek word 'Phobos', meaning fear and the Latin word 'Equus', meaning horse...

 boy “Little Hans”, Freud showed that the relation between Hans’s fears — of horses and of his father — derived from external factors, the birth of a sister, and internal factors, the desire of the infantile id to replace father as companion to mother, and guilt
Guilt
Guilt is the state of being responsible for the commission of an offense. It is also a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that...

 for enjoying the masturbation
Masturbation
Masturbation refers to sexual stimulation of a person's own genitals, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation can be performed manually, by use of objects or tools, or by some combination of these methods. Masturbation is a common form of autoeroticism...

 normal to a boy of his age. Moreover, his admitting to wanting to procreate with mother was considered proof of the boy’s sexual attraction
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

 to the opposite-sex parent; he was a heterosexual male. Yet, the boy Hans was unable to relate fearing horses to fearing his father. As the treating psychoanalyst
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

, Freud noted that “Hans had to be told many things that he could not say himself” and that “he had to be presented with thoughts, which he had, so far, shown no signs of possessing”.

Feminine Oedipus attitude


Initially, Freud equally applied the Oedipus complex to the psychosexual development
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

 of boys and girls, but later modified the female aspects of the theory as feminine Oedipus attitude and negative Oedipus complex; yet, it was his student–collaborator Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

, who, in 1913, proposed the Electra complex
Electra complex
In Neo-Freudian psychology, the Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Gustav Jung, is a girl’s psychosexual competition with mother for possession of father. In the course of her psychosexual development, the complex is the girl’s phallic stage formation of a discrete sexual identity; a boy’s...

to describe a girl’s daughter–mother competition for psychosexual possession of father.

In the phallic stage
Phallic stage
In Freudian psychology, the Phallic stage is the third stage of psychosexual development, spanning the ages of three to six years, wherein the infant’s libido centers upon his or her genitalia as the erogenous zone...

, a girl’s Electra complex is her decisive psychodynamic
Psychodynamics
Psychodynamics is the theory and systematic study of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, especially the dynamic relations between conscious motivation and unconscious motivation...

 experience in forming a discrete sexual identity (ego). Whereas a boy develops castration anxiety
Castration anxiety
Castration anxiety is the fear of emasculation in both the literal and metaphorical sense.-Literal:Castration anxiety is the conscious or unconscious fear of losing all or part of the sex organs, or the function of such....

, a girl develops penis envy
Penis envy
Penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the theorized reaction of a girl during her psychosexual development to the realization that she does not have a penis....

 rooted in anatomic fact: without a penis, she cannot sexually possess mother, as the infantile id demands. Resultantly, the girl redirects her desire
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

 for sexual union upon father, thus progressing to heterosexual femininity, which culminates in bearing a child, who replaces the absent penis
Penis
The penis is a biological feature of male animals including both vertebrates and invertebrates...

. Furthermore, after the phallic stage, the girl’s psychosexual development includes transferring her primary erogenous zone from the infantile clitoris
Clitoris
The clitoris is a sexual organ that is present only in female mammals. In humans, the visible button-like portion is located near the anterior junction of the labia minora, above the opening of the urethra and vagina. Unlike the penis, which is homologous to the clitoris, the clitoris does not...

 to the adult vagina
Vagina
The vagina is a fibromuscular tubular tract leading from the uterus to the exterior of the body in female placental mammals and marsupials, or to the cloaca in female birds, monotremes, and some reptiles. Female insects and other invertebrates also have a vagina, which is the terminal part of the...

.

Freud thus considered a girl’s negative Oedipus complex to be more emotionally intense than that of a boy, resulting, potentially, in a woman of submissive, insecure personality; thus might an unresolved Electra complex, daughter–mother competition for psychosexual possession of father, lead to a phallic-stage fixation
Fixation (psychology)
Fixation: 'concept originated by Sigmund Freud to denote the persistence of anachronistic sexual traits'. Subsequently '"Fixation" acquired a broader connotation...

 conducive to a girl becoming a woman who continually strives to dominate men (viz. penis envy
Penis envy
Penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the theorized reaction of a girl during her psychosexual development to the realization that she does not have a penis....

), either as an unusually seductive woman
Femme fatale
A femme fatale is a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. She is an archetype of literature and art...

 (high self-esteem) or as an unusually submissive woman (low self-esteem). Therefore, the satisfactory parental handling and resolution of the Electra complex are most important in developing the female infantile super-ego, because, by identifying with a parent, the girl internalizes Morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

, thereby, she chooses to comply with societal rules, rather than reflexively complying in fear of punishment.

Freudian theoretic revision


When Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 (1856–1939) proposed that the Oedipus complex was psychologically universal, he provoked the evolution of Freudian psychology
Ego psychology
Ego psychology is a school of psychoanalysis rooted in Sigmund Freud's structural id-ego-superego model of the mind.An individual interacts with the external world as well as responds to internal forces. Many psychoanalysts use a theoretical construct called the ego to explain how that is done...

 and the psychoanalytic
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

 treatment method, by collaborator and competitor alike; some examples are:

Carl Jung — In countering Freud’s proposal that the psychosexual development
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

 of boys and girls is equal, that each initially experiences sexual desire (libido
Libido
Libido refers to a person's sex drive or desire for sexual activity. The desire for sex is an aspect of a person's sexuality, but varies enormously from one person to another, and it also varies depending on circumstances at a particular time. A person who has extremely frequent or a suddenly...

) for mother, and aggression towards father, student–collaborator Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

 counter-proposed that girls experienced desire for father and aggression towards mother via the Electra complex
Electra complex
In Neo-Freudian psychology, the Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Gustav Jung, is a girl’s psychosexual competition with mother for possession of father. In the course of her psychosexual development, the complex is the girl’s phallic stage formation of a discrete sexual identity; a boy’s...

— derived from the 5th-century BC Greek mythologic character Electra
Electra
In Greek mythology, Electra was an Argive princess and daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra. She and her brother Orestes plotted revenge against their mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for the murder of their father Agamemnon...

, who plotted matricidal
Matricide
Matricide is the act of killing one's mother. As for any type of killing, motives can vary significantly.- Known or suspected matricides :* Amastris, queen of Heraclea, was drowned by her two sons in 284 BC....

 revenge with Orestes
Orestes
Orestes was the son of Agamemnon in Greek mythology; Orestes may also refer to:Drama*Orestes , by Euripides*Orestes, the character in Sophocles' tragedy Electra*Orestes, the character in Aeschylus' trilogy of tragedies, Oresteia...

, her brother, against Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra or Clytaemnestra , in ancient Greek legend, was the wife of Agamemnon, king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Mycenae or Argos. In the Oresteia by Aeschylus, she was a femme fatale who murdered her husband, Agamemnon – said by Euripides to be her second husband – and the Trojan princess...

, their mother, and Aegisthus
Aegisthus
In Greek mythology, Aegisthus was the son of Thyestes and of Thyestes' daughter, Pelopia....

, their stepfather, for their murder of Agamemnon
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

, her father, (cf. Electra
Electra (Sophocles)
Electra or Elektra is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles. Its date is not known, but various stylistic similarities with the Philoctetes and the Oedipus at Colonus lead scholars to suppose that it was written towards the end of Sophocles' career.Set in the city of Argos a few years after the Trojan...

, by Sophocles).
Moreover, because it is native to Freudian psychology
Ego psychology
Ego psychology is a school of psychoanalysis rooted in Sigmund Freud's structural id-ego-superego model of the mind.An individual interacts with the external world as well as responds to internal forces. Many psychoanalysts use a theoretical construct called the ego to explain how that is done...

, orthodox Jungian psychology uses the term “Oedipus complex” only to denote a boy’s psychosexual development.

Otto Rank — In classical Freudian psychology
Ego psychology
Ego psychology is a school of psychoanalysis rooted in Sigmund Freud's structural id-ego-superego model of the mind.An individual interacts with the external world as well as responds to internal forces. Many psychoanalysts use a theoretical construct called the ego to explain how that is done...

 the super-ego, “the heir to the Oedipus complex”, is formed as the infant boy internalizes
Internalization
Internalization has different definitions depending on the field that the term is used in. Internalization is the opposite of externalization.- General :...

 the familial rules of his father. In contrast, in the early 1920s, using the term pre-Oedipal, Otto Rank
Otto Rank
Otto Rank was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, teacher and therapist. Born in Vienna as Otto Rosenfeld, he was one of Sigmund Freud's closest colleagues for 20 years, a prolific writer on psychoanalytic themes, an editor of the two most important analytic journals, managing director of Freud's...

 proposed that a boy’s powerful mother was the source of the super-ego, in the course of normal psychosexual development
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

. Rank’s theoretic conflict with Freud excluded him from the Freudian inner circle; nonetheless, he later developed the psychodynamic
Psychodynamics
Psychodynamics is the theory and systematic study of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, especially the dynamic relations between conscious motivation and unconscious motivation...

 Object relations theory
Object relations theory
Object relations theory is a psychodynamic theory within psychoanalytic psychology. The theory describes the process of developing a mind as one grows in relation to others in the environment....

 in 1925.

Melanie Klein — Whereas Freud proposed that father (the paternal phallus) was central to infantile and adult psychosexual development
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

, Melanie Klein
Melanie Klein
Melanie Reizes Klein was an Austrian-born British psychoanalyst who devised novel therapeutic techniques for children that had an impact on child psychology and contemporary psychoanalysis...

 concentrated upon the early maternal relationship, proposing that Oedipal manifestations are perceptible in the first year of life, the oral stage
Oral stage
In Freudian psychoanalysis, the term oral stage denotes the first psychosexual development stage wherein the mouth of the infant is his or her primary erogenous zone...

. Her proposal was part of the Controversial discussions
Controversial discussions
The Controversial discussions were a protracted series of 'Scientific Meetings' of the British Psychoanalytical Society which took place between October 1942 and February 1944 between the Viennese school and the supporters of Melanie Klein...

 (1942–44) at the British Psychoanalytical Association. The Kleinian psychologists proposed that “underlying the Oedipus complex, as Freud described it . . . there is an earlier layer of more primitive relationships with the Oedipal couple”. Moreover, Klein’s work lessened the central role of the Oedipus complex, with the concept of the depressive position.
Wilfred Bion — “For the post–Kleinian
Melanie Klein
Melanie Reizes Klein was an Austrian-born British psychoanalyst who devised novel therapeutic techniques for children that had an impact on child psychology and contemporary psychoanalysis...

 Bion
Wilfred Bion
Wilfred Ruprecht Bion DSO was an influential British psychoanalyst, who became president of the British Psychoanalytical Society from 1962 to 1965....

, the myth of Oedipus concerns investigatory curiosity — the quest for knowledge — rather than sexual difference; the other main character in the Oedipal drama becomes Tiresias
Tiresias
In Greek mythology, Tiresias was a blind prophet of Thebes, famous for clairvoyance and for being transformed into a woman for seven years. He was the son of the shepherd Everes and the nymph Chariclo; Tiresias participated fully in seven generations at Thebes, beginning as advisor to Cadmus...

 (the false hypothesis erected against anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

 about a new theory)”. Resultantly, “Bion regarded the central crime of Oedipus as his insistence on knowing the truth at all costs”.
Jacques Lacan — From the postmodern perspective, Jacques Lacan
Jacques Lacan
Jacques Marie Émile Lacan was a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who made prominent contributions to psychoanalysis and philosophy, and has been called "the most controversial psycho-analyst since Freud". Giving yearly seminars in Paris from 1953 to 1981, Lacan influenced France's...

 argued against removing the Oedipus complex from the center of psychosexual developmental experience. He considered “the Oedipus complex — in so far as we continue to recognize it as covering the whole field of our experience with its signification . . . [that] superimposes the kingdom of culture” upon the person, marking his or her introduction to symbolic order.
Thus “a child learns what power independent of itself is as it goes through the Oedipus complex . . . encountering the existence of a symbolic system independent of itself”. Moreover, Lacan’s proposal that “the ternary relation of the Oedipus complex” liberates the “prisoner of the dual relationship” of the son–mother relationship proved useful to later psychoanalysts; thus, for Bollas, the “achievement” of the Oedipus complex is that the “child comes to understand something about the oddity of possessing one’s own mind
Mind
The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different traditions, ranging from panpsychism and animism to traditional and organized religious views, as well as secular and materialist philosophies. Most agree that minds are constituted by conscious experience and intelligent...

 . . . discovers the multiplicity of points of view”. Likewise, for Ronald Britton, “if the link between the parents perceived in love and hate can be tolerated in the child’s mind . . . this provides us with a capacity for seeing us in interaction with others, and . . . for reflecting on ourselves, whilst being ourselves”. As such, in The Dove that Returns, the Dove that Vanishes (2000), Michael Parsons proposed that such a perspective permits viewing “the Oedipus complex as a life-long developmental challenge . . . [with] new kinds of Oedipal configurations that belong to later life”.

In 1920, Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 wrote that “with the progress of psychoanalytic
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

 studies the importance of the Oedipus complex has become, more and more, clearly evident; its recognition has become the shibboleth that distinguishes the adherents of psychoanalysis from its opponents”; thereby it remained a theoretic cornerstone of psychoanalysis until about 1930, when psychoanalysts began investigating the pre-Oedipal
Otto Rank
Otto Rank was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, teacher and therapist. Born in Vienna as Otto Rosenfeld, he was one of Sigmund Freud's closest colleagues for 20 years, a prolific writer on psychoanalytic themes, an editor of the two most important analytic journals, managing director of Freud's...

 son–mother relationship within the theory of psychosexual development
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

. Janet Malcolm reports that by the late 20th century, to the object relations psychology “avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

, the events of the Oedipal period are pallid and inconsequential, in comparison with the cliff-hanging psychodrama
Psychodrama
Psychodrama is a method of psychotherapy in which clients utilize spontaneous dramatization, role playing and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight into their lives. Developed by Jacob L. Moreno, M.D. psychodrama includes elements of theater, often conducted on a stage where...

s of infancy. . . . For Kohut
Kohut
Kohut is a surname, and may refer to:* Alexander Kohut, rabbinic scholar* Heinz Kohut, Austrian-born Jewish-American psychoanalyst* Józef Kohut, Polish ice hockey player* Oleksandra Kohut, Ukrainian female sport wrestler- See also :* Kogut...

, as for Winnicott and Balint
Balint
Balinţ is a commune in Timiş County, Romania. It is composed of four villages: Balinţ, Bodo, Fădimac and Târgovişte....

, the Oedipus complex is an irrelevance in the treatment of severe pathology
Psychopathology
Psychopathology is the study of mental illness, mental distress, and abnormal/maladaptive behavior. The term is most commonly used within psychiatry where pathology refers to disease processes...

”. Nonetheless, Ego psychology
Ego psychology
Ego psychology is a school of psychoanalysis rooted in Sigmund Freud's structural id-ego-superego model of the mind.An individual interacts with the external world as well as responds to internal forces. Many psychoanalysts use a theoretical construct called the ego to explain how that is done...

 continued to maintain that “the Oedipal period — roughly three-and-a-half to six years — is like Lorenz
Konrad Lorenz
Konrad Zacharias Lorenz was an Austrian zoologist, ethologist, and ornithologist. He shared the 1973 Nobel Prize with Nikolaas Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch...

 standing in front of the chick, it is the most formative, significant, moulding experience of human life . . . If you take a person’s adult life — his love, his work, his hobbies, his ambitions — they all point back to the Oedipus complex”.

Criticism


Contemporary psychoanalysts accept the universality of the Oedipus complex to different degrees; Hans Keller
Hans Keller
Hans Keller was an influential Austrian-born British musician and writer who made significant contributions to musicology and music criticism, as well as being an insightful commentator on such disparate fields as psychoanalysis and football...

 proposed it is so “at least in Western societies”; and others consider that ethnologists
Ethnology
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

 already have established its temporal and geographic universality. Nonetheless, few psychoanalysts disagree that the “child then entered an Oedipal phase . . . [which] involved an acute awareness of a complicated triangle
Phallic stage
In Freudian psychology, the Phallic stage is the third stage of psychosexual development, spanning the ages of three to six years, wherein the infant’s libido centers upon his or her genitalia as the erogenous zone...

 involving mother, father, and child” and that “both positive and negative Oedipal themes are typically observable in development
Psychosexual development
In Freudian psychology, psychosexual development is a central element of the psychoanalytic sexual drive theory, that human beings, from birth, possess an instinctual libido that develops in five stages. Each stage — the oral, the anal, the phallic, the latent, and the genital — is characterized...

”. Despite evidence of parent–child conflict, the evolutionary psychologists Martin Daly
Martin Daly
Martin Daly is a Professor of Psychology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and author of many influential papers on evolutionary psychology. Current research topics include an evolutionary perspective on risk-taking and interpersonal violence, especially male-male conflict and...

 and Margo Wilson
Margo Wilson
Margo Wilson was Professor of Psychology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Along with her husband and frequent research partner Martin Daly, she wrote many influential papers and books in the field of evolutionary psychology...

 note that it is not for sexual possession of the opposite sex-parent; thus, in Homicide (1988), they proposed that the Oedipus complex yields few testable predictions, because they found no evidence of the Oedipus complex in people.

Moreover, in No More Silly Love Songs: A Realist’s Guide to Romance (2010), Anouchka Grose said that “a large number of people, these days believe that Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

’s Oedipus complex is defunct . . . ‘disproven’, or simply found unnecessary, sometime in the last century”. Moreover, from the post-modern perspective, Grose said that “the Oedipus complex isn’t really like that. It’s more a way of explaining how human beings are socialised
Socialization
Socialization is a term used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists and educationalists to refer to the process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies...

 . . . learning to deal with disappointment
Suffering
Suffering, or pain in a broad sense, is an individual's basic affective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm. Suffering may be qualified as physical or mental. It may come in all degrees of intensity, from mild to intolerable. Factors of duration and...

”. The elementary understanding being that “You have to stop trying to be everything for your primary career, and get on with being something for the rest of the world”. Nonetheless, the open question remains whether or not such a post–Lacan
Lacan
Lacan is surname of:* Jacques Lacan , French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist** The Seminars of Jacques Lacan** From Bakunin to Lacan: Anti-Authoritarianism and the Dislocation of Power, a book on political philosophy by Saul Newman** Lacan at the Scene* Judith Miller, née Lacan...

ian interpretation “stretches the Oedipus complex to a point where it almost doesn’t look like Freud’s any more”.