“I love you, mom !” How to react to Oedipus complex?
As a normal stage in the emotional development of a little boy, the Oedipus complex encompasses all the impulses that, at two or three years of age, lead the child to be attracted to his mother, experiencing hostility to his father. First used for boys, today it tends in common language to be used for both sexes. Explanations.
How to define the Oedipus complex?
The Oedipus Complex translates between the two and a half to seven years of age by the unconscious and rational rejection of the same-sex parent, due to an amorous projection on the opposite-sex parent. This step is naturally resolved by progressive identification with the same-sex parent.
The origins of the concept
The Oedipus complex was identified for boys by Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, about Sophocles’ play Oedipus King. Abandoned at birth, Oedipus is led to killing his father whom he does not know and to marry his mother. For the little girls, one also uses the term of a compound of Electre, of the name of the Greek heroine who killed his mother Clytemnestre to avenge his father Agamemnon assassinated by the latter.
The manifestations of this famous complex of Oedipus
“About three years, or even two and a half years, the little boy becomes possessive with his mother, he asks for more cuddling and tenderness. He may also seek to enter the sexual intimacy of his parents by entering for example without knocking in their room. For the little girl, this phase corresponds to the moment when she charms her father, she snuggles in her arms and tries to attract her attention, while her mother becomes both a rival and a model. Freud describes this stage as the phallic phase, since the boy, in the process of discovering his body, is aware that the penis is a fundamental element in the intimacy of his parents, from which he is excluded.
– Not succeeding in these unconscious maneuvers of seduction, and without being able to put words on what it feels, the child will often repress its annoyance which will then express itself by anger and nightmares, between three and five years. This moment is called a castration complex by Freud because in the face of the boy’s desire, it is the punishment given by the father felt to be the most adequate.
– To emerge from this situation, gradually, between three and seven years, the child, in a process named by Freud the resolution, will give up taking the place of the same-sex parent, driving back in his unconscious emotions and passions. It is the age, around five or six years, when little girls want to do everything like moms and where little boys are happy to adopt behaviors similar to those of dad, to share activities with him.
How to react?
A critical moment for the construction of sexuality and personality, the Oedipus complex is a regular stage, but it demands sustained attention from parents. You have to explain to the child, who can become aggressive, that he will never be able to marry his father or mother, but that he will also find a different person with whom he can act like his parents.
The father’s authority sets the limit about the child’s desire; it serves the little girl to understand that she will not be able to have with him the same relationship he has with his mother and the little boy His mother is forbidden to him.
The parent to whom the aggressiveness of the child turns momentarily must continue as if nothing had happened,
The consequences for adults
In the development of the child, the compound of Oedipus poorly solved would be, for Freud, at the origin of most psychological disorders in men.
However, this compound seems to exist in a nuclear family (father, mother, and children living under the same roof), and the emergence of new forms of family (single-parent, same-sex) led the psychoanalysis modern to consider When the parental figure is absent, intermittent, or shared among several men. The lack of a paternal figure that can lead the child to identify with his mother and thus, in some cases, attraction to people of the same sex.