What is Oedipus Complex?

Meaning of Oedipus Complex

Click here to open the audio player. Always open. The Oedipus Complex is an organized set of hostile and loving desires that the child presents in relation to her parental figures.

The concept was first described by Sigmund Freud, and has been a crucial topic in his school of thought ever since.

The father of psychoanalysis was based on the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex by Sophocles (496-406ª.c.), to illustrate the situation.

In the narrative, the protagonist, who was unaware of his parents, kills his father and marries his mother, with whom he had four children.

Oedipus triangulation

The complex is considered a central phenomenon of childhood sexuality, reaching its peak between three and five years of age of the individual.

In its simple and positive form, the child shows love for the parent of the opposite sex and rivalry with the same sex. His libidinal energy and affective experiences orbit this organization. I quote Freud:

“The boy begins to show an exaggerated preference for his mother. The boy begins to wish that his mother exists only for him, he becomes jealous of his father and does everything possible to eliminate him from living with his mother.

At the same time, or later, he feels guilty for a serious fault, he feels remorse towards his father. The same thing happens with the girl: she begins to desire her father and repels her mother”.

However, this triangulation is schematic. There are also, in addition to the negative form, a series of mixed cases in dialectical coexistence.

Its dissolution is due to multiple factors. There is ontogenetics: in the male case, the threat of castration by the father is decisive in the relatively abrupt renunciation of the incestuous object.

Also, realizing that it is not the only priority of the mother, it would also begin to affect others.

In the female case, in turn, introduced by the castration complex, the withdrawal would be obtained after a symbolic compensation between the penis and the son, inevitably frustrated.

As triangle deployments, we cite:

  • Access to genitality, which is not guaranteed by the biological maturation of people.
  • The choice of the object of love, since this, after puberty, is marked by the inversions inherent in the Oedipus complex and by the prohibition of incest.
  • The constitution of psychic instances superego and ego ideal
  • Effects on the structuring of personality, marked by the different parental images and relationships between the vertices of the triangle

In addition, in the analysis, Oedipus is considered the core of neurotic suffering and the referential axis of psychopathologies.

Panoramic Thought

The complex is not reduced to a real situation or to the influence exerted exclusively by the parental couple on the child, since there are numerous other variables in the subjectivation processes of the subjects.

Thus, it is said that the importance of the concept is to show the interdictory instance (prohibition of incest), which prevents access to the naturally sought satisfaction and links desire with the law, playing a fundamental role in the structuring of personality and in the orientation of the subject’s desire. .

In addition, it is essential to contextualize the reality in which the subject finds himself, that is, to consider the beings or Institutions that exercise parental functions in each individual case.

The cultural school presents contributions to reflection. In addition to revealing that the heterosexual family nucleus is only one of the possible (recent) models, it shows that, in certain civilizations or times, the father is devoid of the repressive authority.

Therefore, there would be no Oedipus complex, but a typical situation of such a structure.

Finally, as an illustrative suggestion, I quote Lacan: “every analyst who does not reach the subjectivity of his time must abandon the practice of psychoanalysis.”

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