What is Electra Complex?
The Electra complex is mentioned by psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) to criticize Sigmund Freud for the lack of a female counterpart for his theory on the Oedipus complex.
The Electra complex was first mentioned in 1913, as a supplement to define the psychosexual development of children suggested by the psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). The latter defined the Oedipus complex as the universal paradigm of sexual and psychological human development.
Freud uses the elements of parricide, incest, and repression of the Greek myth of Oedipus to define the Oedipus complex. Freud defines the complex as the first sexual impulse towards the mother and the first passionate hatred towards the father.
Freud does not accept the existence or suggestion of the Electra complex. It alludes that the feminine version is called the feminine Oedipus complex, the desire towards the father being a reflection of the “penis envy” that women suffer.
The Oedipus complex was coined by the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) in 1900 in his work The Interpretation of Dreams and it meant a revolution for the psychoanalysis of the time.
The Electra Myth
The Electra complex is based on Greek mythology recounting the bravery, violence, intelligence and cruelty with which Electra plans and assassinates her mother Clytemnesta to avenge her beloved father Agamemnon.
According to Greek mythology, Agamemnon and Clytemnesta had three children: Iphigenia, Electra and Orestes. Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae and forced Clytemnesta, daughter of the kings of Sparta, to be his wife after having killed her husband. Climnesta was the sister of Helena, who was married to Agamemnon’s brother.
When Helena is kidnapped by Prince Paris, Agamemnon heads to Troy, unleashing what is known as the Trojan War to help his brother Menelaus to recover his wife. But before leaving, the king of Mycenae sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia for having unleashed the fury of Artemis.
Meanwhile, with Agamemnon’s departure, Clytemnesta takes Egisto as her lover, who helps her with his plan of revenge towards her husband. When Agamemnon returns to Mycenae, Clytemnesta murders him while taking a bath. Electra and Orestes flee seeking refuge in Athens.
Clytemnesta and Egisto reign Mycenae for seven years until Orestes murders his mother to avenge the death of his father, under the direction of Electra and the god Apollo.
The Oedipus myth
The Oedipus complex is based on the Greek myth where the Delphi oracle warns Layo and Yocasta that their son will kill his father and marry his mother. The couple orders their firstborn son to be sacrificed, who was hung from his pierced feet to die slowly. He was rescued by a pastor who called the boy Oedipus: “the one with the swollen feet.”
As time goes by, Oedipus unknowingly fulfills the predictions of the oracle, killing his father Laius and marrying his mother Yocasta.
The story of Oedipus is found in the work Oedipus Rex written by Sophocles.