Oedipus Complex and Electra Complex

PsychologyPersonality Psychology

Oedipus Complex and Electra Complex

Why are boys more attached to their mothers, and girls more attached to their fathers? This appears to be every family's narrative. In his psychoanalytic theory of the Oedipus complex, Sigmund Freud first described how babies have a love-hate relationship with each parent.

What is the Oedipus Complex?

In psychoanalytical theory, the name was coined by Sigmund Freud from a Greek story in which Oedipus accidentally kills his father Laius, and marries his mother, Jocasta. Sigmund Freud first introduced the "Oedipus Complex" concept to refer to a child's conflict with their same-sex parent for their opposite-sex parent's sexual attention. "When the boy's fear of being castrated and growing identification with the father do not sufficiently resolve the Oedipus complex," according to Freud, neurosis occurs. The female Oedipus complex is the "matching relationship between the daughter's romantic desires toward the father and competition toward the mother, and it is suggested that this complex can be addressed by the threat of losing the mother's love and finding fulfillment in the feminine role."

The libido and ego are formed during the phallic phase of psychosexual development, which lasts from ages three to six, when the Oedipus complex typically first manifests. A boy's defining psychosexual experience during the phallic stage is the "Oedipus complex," which is the son-father competition for possession of the mother. The child's genitalia is his or her primary erogenous zone during this third stage of psychosexual development, so as soon as they become aware of their bodies, as well as the bodies of other children and their parents, they satisfy their physical curiosity by taking their clothes off and exploring their genitalia, starting to learn the anatomical differences and the gender differences between "boy" and "girl."

It alludes to a child's unspoken longing for the parent who is the opposite gender, which is considered an important stage of psychosexual development. According to Freud, "the complex is successfully resolved when the kid identifies with the same-sex parent, while complexes that are not successfully resolved can result in neurosis, pedophilia, and homosexual behavior."

What is the Electra Complex?

The daughter's love for her father, resentment toward the mother, and hatred of the mother for robbing her of a penis are the female equivalent of the Oedipus complex. The term "Electra Complex," proposed by Carl Gustav Jung in 1913 to describe the Oedipus complex as it showed in young girls, was derided by Sigmund Freud. The Oedipus complex, which initially referred to "a son's yearning for his mother sexually, is, according to Freud, a desire for the parent in both males and females, and boys and girls have varied experiences with the complex- boys who experience castration anxiety and girls who experience penis envy. Freud claimed that around this point, boys and females start to obsess about the penis. According to Freud," girls obsess over their lack of a penis and, consequently, their clitoris. According to Freud, a girl first becomes emotionally bonded to her mother before realizing she lacks a penis. She feels "castrated" by her mother as a result, which Freud described as "penis envy." She grows close to her father as a result of this."

Many contemporary psychology textbooks perpetuate the false idea that "Electra Complex" is a word coined by Sigmund Freud, even though he disapproved of it and preferred the term "Oedipus Complex" to describe both males and girls.


There is little evidence to support the claim that the Electra Complex or Oedipus Complex is real. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, does not list it as an official diagnosis (DSM-5). Freud's theories on psychosexual development have come under fire for being outmoded because they rely on gender roles from a century ago. Particularly, the idea of "penis envy" has come under fire for being misogynistic. The Oedipus and Electra complexes also make the heteronormative claim that a kid needs two parents—a mother and a father—to develop correctly. In spite of this, a child may feel some sexual desire toward a parent, and many believe that it is not as universal as Freud believed.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47