Oedipus Complex


Oedipus Complex Essay, Research Paper

One of the cornerstones of psychoanalysis is the Oedipus Complex. According to the generally accepted version during a session of self-analysis, Freud unearthed a childhood memory of being sexually aroused by seeing his mother naked.

Soon after Freud uncovered these memories from his childhood, he postulated a universal law- the Oedipus Complex. Freud believed that in the phallic stage of development (i.e. between the years of 2 and 3) every boy has the urge to engage in sexual acts with their mother, and fear castration from their father. Because of this desire, the boy will kill his father. Even though Freud?s theory seemed more to imply that this applied to males rather than females, it is now acknowledged that females can be effected in the same way. This is referred to as the Electra Complex.

For a little girl the resolution of the Oedipus Complex is different. She gives up the desire for the mother by becoming attached to her father. In fact she might become too attached to her father. While Freud originally believed that the memories his female clients uncovered about incestuous relationships with their fathers were true after the formulation of the Oedipus Complex, Freud reached the conclusion that these memories were in reality, wish fulfilling fantasies of overly attached females. As such feelings were unacceptable to the moral ego, the female repressed them.

The reasoning for the incestuous attraction is most likely due to proximity: as the child first develops a sense of sexuality, the parents are two of the few within the child?s social circle. It could be assumed that a child would develop a similar complex if raised by an aunt and uncle, or was adopted. Nevertheless, the sexual desire develops for the opposite sex parent, as probably for the reason above, and hostility for the same sex parent due to the fact that this individual stands in the way of fulfillment of this desire, and takes attention away from the child. Jealousy, therefore, is the reason behind hostility.

Many situations may arise which bring oedipal urges rushing to the surface. For instance, when parents divorce, an opportunity suddenly arises for the child to satisfy the desires, as there is no longer a bond between the parent, which locks the child out. Similarly, the death of a parent creates an opening as well, and perhaps this is magnified by the emotional tenderness of the parent. A parent pursuing a relationship after divorce or death can bring about these urges again, with magnified anger and anxiety, because the child once again witnesses the chance to fulfill the urge being stolen away.

Freud?s theory of the Oedipus Complex takes its name from the title character of Sophecles? Oedipus. In this Greek drama, Oedipus has moved from his parents? home in Corinth to escape a prophecy of fate. The prophecy of fate said that Laius? first-born child will kill him and breed children with his wife. On his journey, he kills Laius, the king of Thebes, not knowing that he was his father. He killed him because he treated Oedipus roughly. Later, he arrives in Thebes, and solves the Sphinx?s riddle. He then becomes king of Thebes and married Laius? widow, Jocasta, not knowing that it was also his mother. He eventually had children with Jocasta. This myth has the two key elements of the Oedipus Complex. Oedipus killed his dad and had a sexual relationship with his mother. This ties in directly with the concept of Freud?s theory.

In conclusion, the story and theory is about how a child fears and envies a parent of the same sex, and how they feel towards a parent of the opposite sex in a sexual way. Because of no proof and the unusual idea of the theory, its concepts were banned because of its sexual connotations. Although today, this theory is not literally believed, it is still referred to quite often.

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