The positive libidinal feelings of a child to the parent of the opposite sex and hostile or jealous feelings toward the parent of the same sex that may be a source of adult personality disorder when unresolved.  It is a pattern of profound emotional ambivalence, a troublesome mixture of love and hate.

The Oedipus Complex occurs during the phallic stage, from roughly ages 3-6 years.  Freud believed that during this stage boys seek genital stimulation and develop both unconscious desires for their mother and jealousy and hatred for their father, whom they consider a rival. It was said that boys felt guilt and lurking fear that their father would punish them, such as by castration.  Freud also believed that conscience and gender identity form as the child resolved the Oedipus Complex at age 5 or 6, but this actually happens earlier.  A child tends to become strongly masculine or feminine without even having the same sex parent present.

Freud argues that all sons unconsciously desire to kill, even if they love, their fathers. He found his own unconscious wish to murder his father in his intensive self analysis in 1897, shortly after the death of his father.

Freud says it is only the male child that we find the fateful combination of love for the one parent and simultaneous hatred for the other as a rival. Freud believed Oedipal was a normal part of human psychological growth and it is during this stage children produce emotional conflicts.

Other psychoanalysts believed that girls experience a parallel called the “Electra Complex”. This comes from a Greek legend of a women named Electra who helped plan the murder of her mother.

The Oedipus Complex originates from a myth about a Greek hero named Oedipus, written by Sophocles.  Oedipus was the son of Laius and Jocasta who in the fulfillment of an oracle unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother.  When Oedipus and Jocasta realize what has happened, Jocasta hangs herself and he rips the golden brooches from his dead mothers gown and plunges them deep into his eyes.  Now blinded, he finally sees the truth and banishes himself to a distant land.  The fact that Oedipus kills his father and sleeps with his mother without knowing that he has done either shows that it was done—unconsciously.

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