It would help if you had some time to hear about the most renowned psychologist of his time and Sigmund Freud after that.
If you have not heard of him yet, in this article, I will brief you a bit about him and one of his most renowned and criticized theories of the Oedipus Complex.
Who was Sigmund Freud?
Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist who later, after researching a great deal into psychology and other related fields, emerged as the father of psychoanalysis.
He gave the most well-known theory of psychoanalysis, whereby he drew stages through which we go throughout our lifetime. He was the one to initiate research into something unknown to anyone.
Psychoanalysis is a clinical method of dealing with psychopathology. Under this method, the psychoanalyst sits with the patient and talks to him in a one-on-one conversation.
It’s a kind of a dialogue between the two. Freud developed various therapeutic approaches or techniques, such as the ‘free association‘ method, to get an excellent response to this.
1. Freud’s Oedipus Complex
The fantastic notion of the Oedipus Complex evolved out of an analysis of the situation described by the ancient Greek playwright Sophocles of the Greek king ”Oedipus”, who killed his father and married his mother, being unaware of the nature of both of these acts, some even call it a Greek myth.
Though the story of the king is nowhere connected to the theory which Freud proposed, the name originated from there. The play provides a straightforward, misunderstood plot whereby the king is unaware of his deed, a child being attracted to their opposite sex parent.
In the 20th century, Freud proved his hypothesis for Oedipus Complex through a thorough study and experiments conducted that an infant (boy, in this case) is sexually attracted to his mother.
Castration anxiety, which is the unreasonable dread of actual and symbolic emasculation as retribution for wanting his mother, is brought on by negative thoughts towards the father.
This attraction remains persistent until he realizes that the head figure of the family is his father. Thereby he is the one to bed the mother.
He identifies a desire for sexual involvement with the opposite-sex parent and a feeling of competition and jealousy with the same-sex parent as parts of his hypothesis of psychosexual stages of development.
According to legend, boys between the ages of 3 and 5 go through this main conflict development stage. The word is called after Oedipus Rex, the central figure in Sophocles’ play.
When he realizes that the mother belongs to the father, he sidelines himself and his attraction toward the mother and moves up the ladder of maturity.
In this similar case, Freud explains (female sexuality) that the female infant is sexually attracted to her father during this stage, which he names the Electra Complex proposed by Carl Jung.
2. Oedipus Complex Theory: The Process
In the early years of a male child, the dependency is entirely on the mother because of which most of the time spent by the child is with his mother.
Here is when the sexual desire of the infant for his mother begins. The love for the mother increases with time during the child’s early years.
There is always an unsaid threat posed by the father – The Threat of Castration, because of which the child fears him though this is an imaginary threat.
When the child comes into his senses, he realizes that the father is the one who behaves like the mother, so he starts taking his father as a ‘rival’ figure.
Also, if there is a sister to the male child, he imagines that the reason why the girl child lacks the penis is that she has already been castrated by the father for her excessive love for the mother.
Now the male child starts developing fantasies of killing his father so that his rival to bed the mother is killed and he can take the father’s place. Freud has precisely considered this fantasy stage as the ‘Oedipus Complex’.
Oedipal complex occurs (Sigmund Freud’s name) for both the Oedipus and the Electra complexes in his theory of psychosexual stages of development.
Since the child is afraid of his father due to his imaginary fear of castration by him, he starts seeing the father’s authority prevalent in the house and with the mother especially.
This marks a shift in affiliation. The child now starts imagining the father as a source of inspiration, where he begins to understand that the father holds all the authority because he owns a phallus!
And the child shifts his entire focus now to the power and authority held by the father.
Now comes into the picture the ‘Unconscious; The child then realizes the father’s power, shuts his sexual desire for his mother unconsciously in his mind, and consents to the law that ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE LOVE TO YOUR MOTHER’.
Freud states that the term Oedipus Complex is the source of all repressed desires deeply embedded in the unconscious and only comes out sometimes through ‘dreams’ or ‘slip of the tongue,’ which he proposed another theory. The phallic stage serves as an essential point in forming a sexual identity.
The Oedipus complex, Freud believed in “the primary phenomenon of the sexual phase of early childhood.” But his assertion that sexes have different moral standards is not well supported by the available data.
Though there are many issues with this theory, and it is considered the most complex of the theories, devoid of any complexities but the very phallocentric nature of it and a profound focus on the sexual aspect rather than any other aspect of the infancy stage.
The theory remains a focus of many writers who emerged during that time and after that such as D.H Lawrence in Sons and lovers and there were many other texts seen in the light of this new theory which was psychoanalytically criticized or commented upon.