• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Outline your understanding of the Oedipus complex and its significance for psychoanalysis.

Extracts from this document...


Outline your understanding of the Oedipus complex and its significance for psychoanalysis The Oedipus complex is felt to be one of Freud's most well-known and controversial theories. This essay will analyse Freud's definition of the Oedipus complex and will attempt to explain why it is so controversial. Freud's theory of infantile sexual development will be discussed, as the Oedipus complex is an important stage in this development and finally, the importance of the theory to psychoanalysis will be examined. To understand the Oedipus complex, the origins of Oedipus must be explained. The term stems from the Greek myth of Oedipus who unknowingly killed his father and unwittingly married his mother. This was his fate and in trying to avoid it, both Oedipus and his parents enabled him to fulfil the prophecy (Bettelheim, 1983). Freud used this story to illustrate his theory that there is a stage in psychosexual development when male children start to develop sexual interests in their mother and see their father as a rival resulting in a wish to do their father harm (Storr, 2001, p.33). There is a difference in this stage between male and female children. ...read more.


The fear of castration and the guilt that he is experiencing for having 'patricidal and incestuous wishes' (Bettelheim, 1983, p.22) leads to the boy repressing his desire for his mother and beginning to identify with his father. The castration complex brings an end to the Oedipus complex for the child as he has rejected his thoughts about his mother. The female version of the Oedipus complex differs from that of the male. The little girl grows to resent her mother after discovering she has no penis. She believes her mother is to blame for this. The female believes that she has been castrated and is envious of boys, leading to the term 'penis envy'. In resenting her mother she turns to 'her father as a love object' (Storr, 2002, p.34). She believes that if her father impregnates her, the baby will make up for the lack of a penis. The end of the Oedipus complex occurs when the female when she discovers that there are men other than her father, who can impregnate her which in turn helps to overcome her inferiority to males (Storr, 2001, p.34). The super-ego; the part of the 'model of the mind' which represents parental authority and social pressures, is said to develop as a result of the Oedipus complex. ...read more.


It could be the case that to prevent neurosis from occurring requires self-discovery and the awareness of one's unconscious. This could prevent the Oedipus complex continuing to be a destructive force in a person's life. Psychoanalysis may provide the individual the opportunity to resolve the conflicts and to make what is unconscious conscious. Uncovering the unconscious as Bettelheim states 'is the best protection against an Oedipal catastrophe' (Bettelheim, 1983, p.25) as it could be argued that to know and face the Oedipal complex is to free oneself of negative consequences it is causing. In conclusion, according to Freud, the Oedipus complex is a stage in psychosexual development that every individual must pass through to achieve a stable life. Failure to resolve it may lead to neurosis as detailed above. It is felt the Oedipus complex is an important stage in defining sexuality, as children identify with the same sex parent leading to a heterosexual identity in adults. To evaluate the Oedipus complex in a literal sense may not take into the account the metaphorical and symbolic meanings. It is felt that the Oedipus complex, which Freud believes to be the centre of neuroses, is significant to psychoanalysis. The process of psychoanalysis can aid an individual to come to terms with the effect of the Oedipus complex and remove the negative impact it is having. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. Comparative Essay: Metamorphosis and Oedipus

    As soon as he turns into a bug his family no longer appreciates him. Oedipus's downfall is brought about when he finally sees the truth that he himself killed his father and then as a result chooses to blind himself from the world.

  2. The Significance of Immortals and Fate in Virgil's 'The Aeneid'.

    leads her to confront Aeolus, god of wind, to release a tempest that will destroy the Trojan fleet, bringing out panic and despair within Aeneas - 'Wherever the Trojans looked, death stared them in the face'. As well as providing an effective opening to the poem, Juno's anger is significant to the idea that fate is unavoidable.

  1. Discuss the contribution of material culture studies to the understanding of social identity.

    Therefore it is the assumption of material culture studies that this thought is a reflection of the culture that produced the man-made objects. With this theory we can see, in some way, how a culture, which had no written records of its existence, lived.

  2. How useful are the sources for our understanding of the significance of tribunes in ...

    the aristocracy and thus the senate while he crippled the power of the tribunes in order to make the constitution more stable. Velleius concludes that 'Sulla left the tribunitian power a shadow without a substance', 'an empty semblance of a magistracy' as Macer adds.

  1. Investigation of the effect of changes in ionic concentration on the e.m.f of a ...

    E0 Fe(II)/ Fe(III) = E0cell + E0 Cu/Cu(II) ?E0 Fe(II)/ Fe(III) = 0.3686 + 0.34 = 0.7083 V Theoretical value = 0.77 Percentage error = (0.77-0.7083)/ 0.77 X 100% = 8.01% The percentage error may be caused by the following sources and should be improved. 1. The theoretical e.m.f could only be measured in a condition of zero

  2. What was the function of hadrians wall

    However the idea of it being a further defensive structure is quite possible, a double mound and ditch system could act as a definite barrier, especially if it was guarded. Nevertheless there are again problems with this theory. If it was built as a second defence structure then it is

  1. The significance of women in the Imperial family

    For the first time in Rome, civic buildings were funded in a woman's name. Honors such as special seating rights with the Vestal Virgins (the preeminent women of Rome) were mixed with diplomatic duties such as meeting with Augustus' clients and provincial ambassadors, promoting colonial interests, and serving as Augustus' proxy during his frequent absences abroad.

  2. King Oedipus Analysis

    In this way, the playwright communicates a message about the folly of taking human achievement too seriously. Because of this, the play is not very humanistic but belittles human beings as futile and flawed. Wisdom and ignorance * The conflict between Teirisias and Oedipus represents the conflict between wisdom and ignorance, Teirisias being wisdom and Oedipus being ignorance.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work