Definition of the Oedipus Complex

Topics: Sigmund Freud, Oedipus complex, Electra complex Pages: 9 (2165 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Definition of the Oedipus Complex

February 1, 1997
Michelle Bauknecht

The positive libidinal feelings of a child to the parent of the opposite sex and hostile or jealous feelings toward the parent of the same sex that may be a source of adult personality disorder when unresolved. It is a pattern of profound emotional ambivalence, a troublesome mixture of love and hate.

The Oedipus Complex occurs during the phallic stage, from roughly ages 3-6 years. Freud believed that during this stage boys seek genital stimulation and develop both unconscious desires for their mother and jealousy and hatred for their father, whom they consider a rival. It was said that boys felt guilt and lurking fear that their father would punish them, such as by castration. Freud also believed that conscience and gender identity form as the child resolved the Oedipus Complex at age 5 or 6, but this actually happens earlier. A child tends to become strongly masculine or feminine without even having the same sex parent present.

Freud argues that all sons unconsciously desire to kill, even if they love, their fathers. He found his own unconscious wish to murder his father in his intensive self analysis in 1897, shortly after the death of his father.

Freud says it is only the male child that we find the fateful combination of love for the one parent and simultaneous hatred for the other as a rival. Freud believed Oedipal was a normal part of human psychological growth and it is during this stage children produce emotional conflicts.

Other psychoanalysts believed that girls experience a parallel called the "Electra Complex". This comes from a Greek legend of a women named Electra who helped plan the murder of her mother.

The Oedipus Complex originates from a myth about a Greek hero named Oedipus, written by Sophocles. Oedipus was the son of Laius and Jocasta who in the fulfillment of an oracle unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother. When Oedipus and Jocasta realize what has happened, Jocasta hangs herself and he rips the golden brooches from his dead mothers gown and plunges them deep into his eyes. Now blinded, he finally sees the truth and banishes himself to a distant land. The fact that Oedipus kills his father and sleeps with his mother without knowing that he has done either shows that it was done---unconsciously.


If a subject in the experimental group shows more aggressive behavior toward his father and increased affectionate behavior toward their mother after receiving the subliminal messages and the control group shows no increase when shown neutral messages, then it will be proven that the Oedipus Complex does in fact exist in the unconscious. To prove this we bring the behavior out from the unconscious to the sub conscious through the subliminal messages. These boys have repressed these feelings for so long because it is too painful for them to deal with.


Ho: Boys in the experimental group will not increase their aggression to their fathers or more affection for their mothers after receiving subliminal messages. (no change)

Hi: Boys in the experimental group receiving subliminal messages will show more aggression toward their father and demonstrate more affection for their mother's. The control group will not demonstrate a changed behavior (Change in behavior)


Independent Variable: Experimental group receiving subliminal messages, either aggressive, affectionate or neutral.

Dependent Variable: The change in behavior observed from before the subliminal messages to after.


I evaluated 10 heterosexual boys from the Winnipeg area, all who were between the ages of 15 and 18 and still living at home with both parents. As the head psychologist in the experiment I entered into an agreement w/ the participants that clarified the nature of the research and the responsibilities for both them and myself. The...
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