Meaning of Oedipus Complex

What is the Oedipus Complex:

The Oedipus complex It is a theory of psychology according to which a person, especially during his childhood, manifests a feeling of attraction towards the parent of the opposite sex. and a rivalry attitude toward the same-sex parent.

Thus, the Oedipus complex, also known as the Oedipal conflict, is characterized by the presence of unconscious love or sexual desires on the part of the individual towards one of their parents.

The Oedipus complex It is a natural process in the psychosexual development of children.However, it can reappear at puberty and, if not resolved, extend into adulthood and considerably affect the individual’s interpersonal relationships.

It is a fundamental concept in the theories of Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, who took the term from the play King Oedipusby the Greek playwright Sophocles. In summary, this work tells the story of a man, Oedipus, who unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother.

See also What is a complex in psychology?

Oedipus complex according to Sigmund Freud

According to Sigmund Freud, the child’s unconscious desire to eliminate the same-sex parent due to sexual attraction to the opposite-sex parent is manifested in the Oedipus complex.

Freud maintains that the period in which the Oedipus complex manifests itself in children is in the phallic phase, that is, when libido or sexual desire develops. In this sense, the Oedipus complex would be one of the symptoms of this stage.

In this regard, Freud considers that, depending on who this sexual desire is directed at, the Oedipus complex can present itself in two ways, one positive and the other negative:

  • Positive Oedipus complex: attraction towards the parent of the opposite sex and hatred towards the parent of the same sex.
  • Negative Oedipus complex: attraction towards the parent of the same sex, and hatred and rivalry towards the parent of the opposite sex.
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Oedipus and Electra complex

The Electra complex is very similar to the Oedipus complex. It differs in that it is suffered by the woman and not by the man.

Electra’s complex consists of the girl expressing love for her father and rivalry and hostility towards her mother. It is a theory that seeks to explain the maturation process of women. It is common for all girls to present at some point in childhood.

It is called the Electra complex in reference to Electra, a character from Greek mythology who avenges the death of her father, Agamemnon. Electra, when she discovers that her mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus, have conspired to murder her father, encourages her brother, Orestes, to do justice by taking their lives.

The term was proposed by the psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung.

See also Electra complex.