The Oedipus complex: one of the most controversial concepts in Freud’s theory

The Oedipus complex: one of the most controversial concepts in Freud’s theory

The Oedipus complex is a term used by Sigmund Freud in his Theory of the stage of psychosexual development to describe the feeling of the desire of a child for its mother and the hatred of the father. This hatred is due to the fact that the child perceives that his father is a competitor for the affection of the mother and expresses his feelings in the form of anger, reprimands and disobedient behavior.

Freud first proposed the Oedipus Complex in 1899 in his book Interpretation of Dreams, but did not begin to use it formally until 1910. The name was later inspired by Oedipus, a figure in Greek mythology who killed accidentally his father.

Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual theory

At the time Freud lived, there was a strong repression of sexual desires. The Austrian psychoanalyst understood that there was a relationship between neurosis and sexual repression. Therefore, it was possible to understand the nature and variety of the disease by knowing the patient’s sexual history.

Freud considered that children are born with a sexual desire that they must satisfy, And that there are a number of stages, during which the child seeks pleasure through different objects. This is what led him to the most controversial part of his theory: the theory of psychosexual development.

Phallic stage and Oedipus complex

According to Freud, there are several stages in the psychosexual development of a child, and the Oedipus complex occurs during phallic stage: Important moment for the development of sexual identity.

This phase takes place from the age of three and extends until the age of six. the genitals are the object of pleasure, and there is an interest in sexual and genital differences, so it is very important not to suppress this desire and the proper management of this stage, as this could hamper the ability to research, to know and general learning of the child.

Freud asserts that male children have sexual desires towards their mothers and see their fathers as rivals, so they fear being castrated, a process that results in the Oedipus complex. Later, children identify with their parents and suppress feelings towards their mother to leave this phase. The correct assimilation of this stage results in the maturity of the sexual identity.

The concept of the Oedipus complex only refers to male boys, as in girls it is called Electra Complex.

Overcome the Oedipus complex

For a good development towards an adult with a healthy identity, the child must identify himself with the same sex as his parent. Freud suggests that if THIS wants to eliminate the father, the EGO knows that his father is much stronger. Then the child experiences what is called castration anxiety, the fear of emasculation. As the child becomes aware of the physical differences between males and females, he assumes that in females the penis has been removed, so his father can castrate him as punishment for wishing his mother.

There are many criticisms that Freud received for the concept of the Oedipus Complex, even from within the world of psychoanalysis itself.

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