• 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...

Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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

    Her plans to prevent the prophesised events are blocked by Neptune, who calms the storm, allowing the surviving Trojan ships to sail to safety. Neptune's intervention is vital in showing that Juno's destructive anger cannot damage the design of Aeneas' fate.

  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. 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. What was the function of hadrians wall

    The view that Hadrian's Wall was a customs barrier used to tax and control all that came in to and left the Roman Empire, has also been put forward by historians and archaeologists. This is based primarily on the fact that there are such a large amount of gates in the wall.

  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

    Teirisias' comment "To be wise is to suffer" is ironic because it comes true for Oedipus. When he learns the truth about himself and becomes wise, he is in utmost agony. The play shows that perhaps having knowledge is not necessarily a good thing, as Teirisias warns, and that there are limitations to our knowledge that we should accept.

  1. Shows how de Bernires uses myth in "Captain Corelli's Mandolin".

    During those years Hercules performed 12 arduous labours. Like Hercules, Carlo is a conscientious, kind, noble and overall good-natured character, he does not exploit his strength; and accepts responsibility for others and clearly has a social conscious. Meanwhile, Mandras continues to woo Pelagia.

  2. Comparative Essay: Metamorphosis and Oedipus

    Just as Jocasta did to Oedipus, in Metamorphosis, Gregor´s mother did not pay much attention to him when he was a normal person. Instead she ignored him generally and then later when he turned into a bug gave him great amounts of attention and love.

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