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The Oedipus Complex Essay

2208 words - 9 pages

Inspired by Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and his analyses of his own and patients’ psychological behavior, Sigmund Freud developed the Oedipus complex. Freud believed that dreams are suppressed oedipal urges, and that these urges are universal to humankind. Opposition to the theory’s name is common, since many believe that Oedipus Rex has a profounder meaning than Freud asserts. Through the content of the play, Sigmund Freud supports his complex by shining light on Oedipus’s tragic, yet inevitable prophecy. The Oedipus complex was developed by the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. The complex describes Freud’s theory of psychosexual stages of development in children, particularly boys. It denotes a boy’s feelings of lust and desire for the mother, and jealousy and envy for the father. The boy views the father as a rival for possession of his mother’s love and affection (Cherry). Likewise, the Electra complex, a term coined by Freud’s student Carl Gustav Jung, describes a similar idea that young girls compete with their mothers for their father’s attention (Wiesen). Freud, however, despised this term since it “seeks to emphasize the analogy between the attitude of the two sexes" (Cherry). Instead, he refers to the female variant of his theory as the "feminine Oedipus attitude" and or the "negative Oedipus complex" (Freud, Sigmund Schlomo).
Freud also delves into sibling relationships concerning his theory. He believes that sibling relationships do not have an independent purpose outside of the Oedipus complex. Siblings of opposite sexes act as doppelgängers of their parents, where a son can desire his sister in place of his mother and vice-versa, whereas same-sex siblings become rivals of each other, vying for their parents' affection. When Freud was about one and a half years old, his mother gave birth to a second son, Julius. Freud recalls feelings of resentment of his younger brother who was consuming his mother’s attention. Less than a year later, Julius passed away, leaving Freud with a lingering sense of guilt throughout the rest of his life. According to Freud, the Oedipus complex arises in the third stage of his five psychosexual development stages; the phallic stage, which occurs between the ages 3-6. Out of the five stages – (i) the oral, (ii) the anal, (iii) the phallic, (iv) the latent, and (v) the genital — the phallic stage primarily focuses on the genitals. The child unconsciously desires the parent of the opposite sex; however, boys fear that the father will punish them. This fear, termed castration anxiety, helps the boy to suppress his desire for his mother, and the young male eventually moves into the fourth stage; the latent stage. In this stage, the boy begins to identify with his father as a means of vicariously possessing his mother. On the other hand, a young girl experiences “penis envy,” in which she blames her mother for her perceived castration. Freud believes that unlike their male counterparts, women...

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