Difference between Oedipus Complex and Electra Complex

Oedipus Complex

Oedipus complex is a psychoanalytic theory penned by Sigmund Freud in 1899. It states that a child starts to hate the parent of the opposite sex and develops sexual feelings for the parent of same sex, unconsciously. It is mainly stated in the context of boys in the age of 3-6, where they start hating their father and develop feelings for their mother. However, later the theory was expanded to include both boys and girls. It was said that as a result of these feelings, boys experience castration anxiety and girls experience penis envy.

This theory is greatly criticized as a cover up for sexual abuse in children.

The child resents the father, which makes him think that his father will cut his penis (castration anxiety). To cope with the anxiety, the child slowly begins to identify with the father and the sexual instincts for the mother start to repress. They gain their superego and male sexual responsibilities from their father, and later go on to attract women who are not related to them.

Electra Complex

Electra complex is another psychological theory proposed by Carl Jung in 1913. According to the theory, a girl starts competing with the mother for her father’s affection. It is the equivalent of the Oedipus complex.

The girl starts to envy her mother called penis envy. She realises that she doesn’t have a penis and blames her mother for the castration. She develops feelings for her father and gets fixated on him, ignoring her mother.

However, later the child gets attached to the mother again and identifies with the female gender roles.

Let us look at the points where both the theories differ.

Oedipus Complex

Electra Complex

Definition

It is a theory which states that the children in ages 3-6 start resenting the same sex parent and develop sexual feelings for the opposite sex parent. However, it focuses primarily on male children.

It is a theory, specific for girls in ages 3-6, where they start to hate their mother and develop feelings for the father.

Discovered by

It was discovered by Sigmund Freud in 1899.

It was discovered by Carl Jung in 1913.

Anxiety

The boy faces castration anxiety.

The girl faces penis envy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How is the Oedipus and Electra complex resolved?

The Oedipus and Electra complexes are resolved when child identifies with the same sex parents, and adapts to their ego and gender specific roles.

Who is the Oedipus complex named after?

It is named after a Greek mythological figure Oedipus, who killed his father Laius and married his mother Jocasta.

What are the five stages of psychosexual development in children?

The five stages are, oral (birth to 18 months), anal (18 months to 3 years), phallic (3 years to 6 years), latent (7 years to puberty) and genital stage (puberty to death).

Are Oedipus complex and Electra complex true?

There is very little evidence to prove the Oedipus and Electra complex. Both the theories are highly debatable.

What is it called when a mother is obsessed with her son?

When a mother is obsessed with her son, it is called the Jocasta complex.

What happens if the Oedipus complex is not resolved?

If the Oedipus complex is not resolved, it can lead to infantile neurosis. In adulthood, the individual chooses partners who resemble their opposite sex parent.

Is little Hans good evidence for the Oedipus complex?

The case of little Hans does give good evidence for the Oedipus complex when looked at in the 20th century, but the modern 21st century theories are mostly against the complex.

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