Oedipus Complex and Electra Complex in the Current Context
Sigmund Freud’s third stage of development, the Phallic stage, is controversial. It lasts from 3-6 years, in which the genitals are the source of sexual pleasure. Children become conscious of their bodies and learn the differences between the sexes. They develop a desire for the opposite sex parent and resentment towards the same-sex parent.
Boys experience the Oedipus complex, where they develop feelings of possession for the mother and fear of the father due to castration anxiety. They desire the mother and hate the father. He seeks the mother’s attention and sees the father as a rival in this. He thus fears that the father will punish him for having such feelings for the mother and therefore has castration anxiety. The boy gradually uses the defense mechanism of repression of his feelings for his mother, reducing the conflict between his id and ego.
Girls experience the Electra complex where they obsess over their fathers and have penis envy. They develop resentment towards the mother and blame her for not providing them with a penis, thus penis envy. Freud described it as a daughter’s longing for her father and competition with her mother. The sexual desires are targeted towards the opposite sex parent, which plays a vital role in developing the girl’s ego and sexual identity. The daughter has an unconscious desire to replace her mother as her father’s sexual partner, creating a rivalry between the daughter and mother.
This theory is highly debated, questioned, and criticized by people in today’s time. It is considered outdated and sexist.