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Oedipus Complex

Oedipus Complex

One of Sigmund Freud's most famous and most controversial theories is that of the Oedipus complex. Freud coined the term to describe the unconscious desire to sexually possess one's opposite sex parent. It was Carl Jung who separated out the Oedipus complex for boys and the Electra complex for girls. If writing a research paper on the Oedipus complex, be sure to examine the psychological theory from the point of view of Freud and how the theory is looked at today. Paper Masters can help you write a custom research paper on the Oedipus Complex.

Freud took the term from Sophocles' famous play Oedipus Rex, in which Oedipus unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother. For Freud, the Oedipal complex occurs during the third (phallic) of the five psychosexual stages of development . During the phallic stage of development, between the ages of three and six, young boys become possessive of their mother's affection and begin to see their fathers as rivals. This is the stage where individuals begin to discover their sexual body parts and begin to see the physical differences between boys and girls, a part of the human psyche. The basic characteristics of this phase are:

  • Discovery of sexual identity
  • Parents become object of energy
  • Id and ego conflict arises
  • Girls learn to comply with social roles

Oedipus Complex and Neuroses

Freud believed that unsuccessful resolution of the Oedipus complex would result in a lifetime of neuroses. Some individuals, he theorized, would become stuck in the Oedipal phase and become "mother-fixated" in the case of boys and "father-fixated" in the case of girls and as adults seek out sexual partners who resemble their parents.

The Oedipus complex theory has been subject to serious criticism in recent scholarship, as many learned individuals find the notion laughable. Freud himself was quite devoted to his mother, and once had an erotic reaction as a boy while watching her dress.

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