Sigmund Freud And The Oedipus Complex

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Lacan once said, in an unpublished seminar, “the Oedipus Complex is a dream of Freud” (Felman, 1034). It is a questionable theory and a so-called ‘dream’ because Sigmund Freud developed the Oedipus complex in such a way that allowed him to stand as an example of his own theory. It begins with what Freud would call ‘introspection’; the analysis of one’s self. He developed terms to use in his psychoanalysis; terms that divide the self and attempt to explain aspects of the human personality. Adding to the questionability of the theory is the category of myth with which the theory was named. The story of Oedipus happens to be one of the few Greek stories that do not fall under the sinful and incestuous category. Alternatively, the Theogony offers myths that do fall into the incestuous category and are ideal for Freud’s conception. By exploring Freud himself and dissecting the underlying myth, this paper will demonstrate that the legendary character of Oedipus did not possess the well-known complex named after him. Furthermore, it will demonstrate that there are many other myths with greater applicability to Freud’s ideas.
Freud developed the Oedipus complex through his therapeutic method of psychoanalysis. Though his concept was popular among his contemporary psychologists, it became important within the humanities because it provided an applicable motif for Greek mythology. Sigmund Freud advanced his ideas through analysis of his personal relationships with his family, his dreams, and his patients. He named it after Oedipus because Freud’s innermost desires paralleled the Oedipus’ actions: Oedipus killed his father and married his mother. Freud himself had admitted to having strong feelings for his mother and resentment toward hi...

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...re, it is an extremely controversial notion to say that reluctance to accept or deny an idea is proof that it occurred. It would mean that events and thoughts that do not belong to the individual are all of a sudden repressed ideas or wishes that the individual is being told are fact. Freud argues that everything Oedipus does in his tale is in order to marry his mother and kill his father. When looking at the story from the beginning, it is clear that Oedipus’ intentions are contrary to Freud’s theory. He is doing everything he can to avoid the fulfillment of the prophecy. An oracle tells him that he will commit these acts and, wanting to evade this, he leaves his home in Creon and travels to Thebes. By breaking down Freud and the Oedipus stories, it can be shown that although the Oedipus complex is applicable to many myths, the myth of Oedipus is not one of them.

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