What is Oedipus complex?

What is Oedipus complex?
January 27, 2022 1 Comment Mental health emmahjoy

Oedipus complex is a psychological term used by Sigmund Freud in his description of psychosexual stages of

development. The term is used to refer to a child’s feelings and desire for the parent of the opposite sex.

A young boy feels that he is competing with his father for the affection of his mother and a young girl feels that she is

competing with her mother for the affection of her father.

Oedipus complex was used by Sigmud Freud to generally refer to the feelings of both boys and girls. However Carl

Jung a student of Sigmund Freud later discovered Electra Complex to define the feelings of a girl towards her father.

According to Freuds Psychosexual stages of development, the stage that is marked with these feelings is the Phallic

stage. The stage occurs between the age of three and five years. Ideally, a child develops an attraction towards the

parent of the opposite sex and views the parent of the same sex as a rival.

What Causes Oedipus Complex?

The cause of Oedipus complex is not distinct. However, Sigmund Freud refers to it as part of the psychosexual

development process occurring at the Phallic Stage.

Example of an Oedipus Complex

Oedipus is shown when a boy is overly attached to the mother. For example;

  • A boy would be so possessive of their mother.
  • If a boy often disrupts simple forms of intimacy between the parents such as hugging or kissing.
  • Overly dependent and clingy on the mother. (however, not all clinginess refer to Oedipus complex)
  • An adolescent boy who is in constant fight with the father but goes soft on the mother.
  • A boy who insists on sleeping in between the parents instead of on his own bed.

How is Oedipus Complex Resolved?

The Oedipus complex is successfully resolved when a the boy learns to identify with the same sex parent as an indirect

way to win over the parent of the opposite sex. The process starts with the child harboring hostile feelings and jealousy

towards his father. These feelings develop into castration anxiety where the child believes that the father would take

away his penis due to the feelings he has for his mother. As a way of coping with the anxiety, the child learns to

identify with his father. He internalizes characteristics, values and attitudes as exhibited by the father. It is in this stage

that the Super Ego develops to form an inner authority. The child also learns from the environment around them

internalizing gender norms and cultural influences. They learn to substitute the desire for their mother with other women.

If the stage is not successfully resolved, it results into a fixation. There are controversies about Sigmund Freuds idea of

fixation. In this case, Sigmund stated that when a child does not successfully resolve their Oedipus complex, it results

into homosexual feelings because they identify with the parent of the opposite sex instead of the parent of the same sex.

However, other studies state that if Oedipus complex is not resolved, it would result into challenges in having a

relatively standard adult romantic relationship.

Is Oedipus Complex Real?

Yes, Oedipus Complex is real. It was first put forward as a theory by Sigmund Freud when he studied and analyzed

dreams. In support of his works, psychologists that came up later like Carl Jung seconded the theory. The reality of

unresolved Oedipus complex is exhibited in people often referred to as “momma’s boy”.

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