What is the Oedipus Complex?
The Oedipus complex 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 an attitude of rivalry towards the parent of the same sex.
Thus, the Oedipus complex, also known as Oedipal conflict, is characterized by the presence of love or sexual desires on an unconscious level by the individual towards one of his parents.
The Oedipus complex is a natural process in the psychosexual development of children , however, it can reappear at puberty and, if not resolved, extend to adult life and considerably affect the interpersonal relationships of the individual.
It is a fundamental concept in the theories of Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, who took the term from the play Oedipus Rex , by the Greek playwright Sophocles. In short, this work tells the story of a man, Oedipus, who unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother.
Oedipus complex according to Sigmund Freud
According to Sigmund Freud, in the Oedipus complex the child’s unconscious desire to eliminate the parent of the same sex is manifested due to the sexual attraction he feels towards the parent of the opposite sex.
Freud maintains that the period in which the Oedipus complex manifests in children is in the phallic phase, that is, when the 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 aimed at, the Oedipus complex can present itself in two ways, one positive and the other negative:
- Positive Oedipus complex: attraction to 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.
Oedipus and Electra Complex
The Electra complex is very similar to the Oedipus complex. It differs in that it is suffered by women and not by men.
Electra’s complex is that the girl shows love for her father and rivalry and hostility towards the mother . It is a theory that tries to explain the maturation process of women. It is common to occur in all girls at some point in childhood.
It is called the Electra complex in reference to Electra, a character in Greek mythology who comes the death of his father, Agamemnon. Electra, when she discovers that her mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Egisto, have conspired to murder her father, encourages her brother, Orestes, to do justice by taking both their lives.
The term was proposed by psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung.