Many a book about
developmental psychology discusses the 'Oedipus complex'.
This changed when I read in a diagnostic report about myself that
my own soul might have an
Oedipus complex - more specifically, a 'negative Oedipus
My investigation was not an explicit one, but since I was in therapy, I gave extra attention to Oedipal rumble that came to the surface. I noted each instance in a diary. Later, I made a logbook out of these notes. I than worked up that logbook into a therapy report. At the end of this process, I could write this essay.
So, this is not an
academic lecture about the Oedipus complex but a personal essay.
There is a lot written about the Oedipus complex. I will not repeat that here, except for mentioning a few authors. I will start telling what is generally known. I then will tell more on the basis of my own experiences, the myth, and recent literature.
Most people know that Oedipus unconsciously killed his father and, also unconsciously, married his mother. Freud has chosen this myth to give a name to what he discovered in his consulting room about the human unconscious.
According to Freud, the Oedipal phase starts at the age of three to five. Freud terms this phase also the phallic phase, a phase in which the phallus has a central place in the child's mind. For boys, this is the penis; for girls, it is the clitoris - the girl has still not discovered her vagina - as well as her brother's and father's penises.
This is also the phase in which the superego develops the conscience. This starts with internalizing the parental authority - for boys, especially the father. This is also the phase in which guilt feelings develop.
Freud uses two central concepts for this phase: fear of castration for boys and penis envy for girls. Based on these feelings, the boy starts to respect his father and the girl gives more attention to her father. So, after a period in which the mother was the central figure, the figure of the father now comes to the foreground.
The girl, 'fathers little girl', falls in love with her father. She wants to marry daddy and to give him a baby.
Parents smile - they have already married each other, a child can see it. Yes, indeed children see this. For the boy, the mother is the wished for partner and the father is the rival. However, the boy does not want to lose his father. For the girl, the father will be the wished for partner and the mother is the rival. However, the girl does not want to lose her mother. Both the boy and the girl have a problem they must solve.
The girl starts her route to become a woman. In the course of this route, she will discover that she has to look for her own partner, and thus she does. Frequently, that partner will look like her father.
answer is just the opposite. The boy wants to please his mother and so he imitates her,
not his father. He is loyal to her and cannot miss her. He side-tracks the
father who is not important - anyway not a person to identify himself
Traces of the Oedipal wishes may exist in the unconscious. Imperceptibly, these ancient wishes will have influence, as we have seen in Kuiper's examples above. For example, for some people it is difficult to keep distance of their parents. They do not grow to be independent, they do not develop their own personality.
This is a description of the Oedipus complex as it is generally known. Most people only speak about a complex if the child did not find an answer, or has chosen a 'negative' answer. In that case there is a problem. The child who has grown good and positively through the Oedipal phase has no problem and, say most people, so no complex. In that case, the whole story will stay unconscious.
There is more to tell, as we will see reading the myth of King Oedipus and reviewing more literature. First, however, I will report my own quest. My quest started with the alarm coming from the diagnosis mentioned above - and with only the basic knowledge of the Oedipus complex also mentioned above. Deeper insights came later and will be mentioned later in this essay.