Table of contents:

Tsar Lai Never Dreamed Of  Was There A "Oedipus Complex"? - Society
Tsar Lai Never Dreamed Of Was There A "Oedipus Complex"? - Society

Video: Tsar Lai Never Dreamed Of Was There A "Oedipus Complex"? - Society

Video: Tsar Lai Never Dreamed Of  Was There A "Oedipus Complex"? - Society
Video: Episode 15 Rosine Perelberg Murdered Father, Dead Father: Revisiting the Oedipus Complex. 2023, April

Gustave Moreau. Oedipus solves the riddle of the Sphinx. 1864

I am writing a letter to a friend: “I remembered my childhood love for my neighbor's girl Masha and my hatred for my neighbor Matvey, who turned on the music loudly. I think that this situation is familiar to many. And if this is so, then we can understand the deep wisdom of Masha and Viti's New Year's Adventures. "

Scary tale

If this passage seems nonsense to you, let me quote a similar phrase from a letter from Sigmund Freud to his friend Wilhelm Fliess: “I also discovered in my own example love for my mother and jealousy for my father … and now I regard this as a universal phenomenon of early childhood. And if this is so, then we can understand the enchanting power of the "King Oedipus." These lines are the first mention of one of the cornerstone postulates of psychoanalysis, later called the "Oedipus complex."

"Oedipus complex" - unconscious (or partially conscious) sexual attraction to the parent of the opposite sex and dual (ie, jealousy and love at the same time) feelings in relation to the parent of the same sex

An Oedipus complex appears at the age of two to five years, but the way in which libido is distributed in the "child - father - mother" triangle becomes a kind of template that will be reproduced already in adult love relationships.

We also recall that the name for this psychoanalytic concept was borrowed by Freud from the drama of the same name by Sophocles. To shorten the plot of Oedipus the King, the ancient Greek king Lai was predicted by the oracle that he would die at the hands of his son. Therefore, the king got rid of the newborn child, also injuring his legs ("Oedipus" from the ancient Greek - "having swollen legs"). But the child was picked up, left and raised by a shepherd.

When Oedipus grew up, he also received the oracle's prediction, according to which he had to kill his father and marry his mother. Which is what happened as a result. By the way, everything ended badly: for this incest, the gods severely punished the inhabitants of Thebes, where Oedipus was king, sending an epidemic; his mother and wife Jocasta hanged herself; Oedipus himself deprived himself of his sight.

One can only envy Freud's resourcefulness - to a simple everyday observation (falling in love with his mother and jealousy for his father), he picked up a beautiful analogy in classical literature (the tragedy "King Oedipus") and made a "psychological law" out of it.

The method is excellent, but I am not sure that the world community will appreciate the love for the neighbor Masha and the enchanting power of the "New Year's Adventures of Masha and Viti". But jokes aside, let's try to figure out how the Freudian "Oedipus complex" is relevant for modern psychology.

Criticism of contemporaries

The existence of the "Oedipus complex" was questioned even by the psychoanalysts of the first wave, those who directly knew Freud and learned from him. If we summarize all the arguments "against", then we get three groups of objections:

1) Ideological

Karen Horney, Melanie Klein and others believed that the psychodynamics described by Freud (the boy's desire to take possession of his mother, eliminating his father, while experiencing "castration fear" in front of him) is a masculine point of view, while in women everything functions differently. In addition, belittling the role of the mother in the boy's life to an object of sexual desire is primitive sexism.

2) Biological

In Freud's time, there was little serious research into the physiology of puberty. Sexual attraction is more or less clearly manifested during puberty, when the so-called "hormonal explosion" occurs and the body begins to produce sex hormones in sufficient concentration.

But this is 12-14 years, not two or five! At the same time, it was not possible to find at least some physiological or behavioral evidence of the adolescent's attraction to the parent of the opposite sex.

3) Sociological

During Freud's lifetime, in 1927, the anthropologist Bronislav Malinovsky, studying the culture and family relations of the aborigines of New Guinea, concluded that they did not have an “Oedipus complex” (which means that this law is not universal).

Representatives of neo-Freudianism (such as Erich Fromm) argued that a child's attachment to his father or mother is determined by the value of the social role “father” / “mother”. Of course, the meaning of family roles and their significance will vary in different societies and in different historical eras.

Castrated teaching

In 1972, Paul Kline's book Fact and Fantasy in Freudian Theory was published, which has gone through many reprints (one of the last in 2014). In the sixth chapter, devoted to the Oedipus complex, the author conducts a kind of meta-research, trying to summarize the results of 17 of the most thorough scientific experiments that purposefully tested the existence of the Oedipus complex.

The author comes to the conclusion that, based on the results obtained, the studies are divided into:

  • completely excluding the existence of the Oedipus complex;
  • fully confirming the existence of the Oedipus complex (as described by Freud);
  • partially confirming the Oedipus complex (for example, the fact that there is some form of fear of the parent of the same gender, which can be considered "castration fear").

Most curiously, most of the research (almost 90%) falls into the third category. General conclusion: something similar to the Oedipus complex does exist, but this is inaccurate.

In 2009 Scientific American magazine published a controversial note about "Oedipus Defeated." One of the manifestations of the Oedipus complex is that we choose our marriage and sexual partner "in the image and likeness" of the parent of the opposite sex.

Simply put, the “ideal husband” should look like his father, and the appearance of the “ideal wife” should match as much as possible with the appearance of a mother in her youth. The discussion took place between evolutionary psychologist Tamas Beretski and behavioral ecologist Markus Ranatala.

Beretsky argued that there was no such similarity, and Rantala (based on his research) argued that there was still a similarity. Rantala experimentally proved that in 92.8% of cases, the width of the face (more precisely, the cheekbones) of a man's chosen one coincides with the width of his mother's face.

It is difficult to say to what extent this single criterion is the decisive argument confirming the existence of the Oedipus complex. Much more interesting is the very translation of the problem into the context of sociobiological research.

Beretsky writes in one of his articles that Freud (in his work "Totem and Taboo") considered the Oedipus complex as one of the factors in the development of human civilization. According to Freud, it was thanks to the "fear of castration" that primitive people tabooed incest, and from these prohibitions all other human laws were born, including morality, cultural norms, etc.

However, modern anthropological research proves that the prohibition of consanguineous marriage is not absolute and can vary considerably across cultures. For example, more than 200 nationalities are known where marriages between cousins and sisters are allowed.

On the other hand, there are modern physiological studies proving that both humans and animals have biological mechanisms that suppress sexual desire in relation to the "close social circle" (including family members). One of these suppressors, for example, are pheromones, which act through the sense of smell.

Perfect marriage

If we argue from an evolutionary point of view, then the Oedipus complex (the search for a partner who is as close as possible to the parent of the opposite sex and, therefore, has a similar genotype) contradicts the increase in species diversity (which is necessary for survival).

Driven by the oedipal complex, a person will tend to inbreeding (that is, to cross with closely related individuals), while the "ideal" evolutionary solution is outbreeding (unrelated crossing)

But this is an ideal picture, and what is really happening? Today there is unique research on the choice of mate / sexual partner and the consequences of this choice on the scale of entire populations. For example, a study was published in 2008 covering all marriages in Iceland between 1800 and 1965.

Iceland is a small island nation, and closely related marriages are inevitable there. As the study showed, the most “successful” (in terms of fertility and general health - alas, psychological well-being was not tested in any way) were marriages between second cousins and fourth cousins.

What is the conclusion from all this? Even if at the psychological level the Oedipus complex is a complete fiction, at the sociobiological (and even genetic) level, the choice of a marriage / sexual partner is determined by a certain degree of his "familiarity". The resemblance of a husband / wife to a father / mother is quite possible, but not at all for the reasons that Freud suggested.

However, it is premature to finally "put down Oedipus" (as evidenced by Paul Kline's book). The relationship between child, mother and father is basic. Various kinds of triangulations (variants of relationships that arise in this family triangle) may well have an impact on the future family and sexual relations of an adult child.

Love for the mother and jealousy for the father are a special case of such a triangulation. How widespread is it and what are the consequences? Hopefully we'll see more research that answers this and other questions

Popular by topic