Essay The Oedipus Complex - Sigmund Freud vs. Jacques Lacan

Essay The Oedipus Complex - Sigmund Freud vs. Jacques Lacan

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The Oedipus Complex - Sigmund Freud vs. Jacques Lacan


The story of Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus has been interpreted by innumerable writers, philosophers, and critics in countless ways; the methods of interpreting Oedipus vary from mad rages and blind accusations to ignorantly perverse acts ranging from basic sexual desire to pre-destined fate ordained by the gods. Perhaps the most famous psychoanalyst in history Sigmund Freud theorized that Oedipus' story was applicable to all. French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan translated Freud into French and, though Lacan claimed to agree completely with Freud's ideas, he substantially changed Freud's theories. As Jurgen Braungardt says, "Lacan performs a renovation: he replaces the foundation of the theory, but retains the surface." The irony of this is that Lacan's interpretations solve the main problems of Freud's theories.

According to Freud, sexual desire is the center of everything. Every action we take and every word we speak has an underlying, perhaps subconscious, sexual theme as its driving force. The first stage in Freud's Oedipus Complex is the oral stage. In the example given by Tom Davis, an English professor at Birmingham University, "the child is in a state of sexual bliss: at the mother's breast, receiving nourishment, in a sexual relationship not only with his mother, but, he thinks, the whole world." After the oral stage comes the anal stage: in this stage the child learns that he cannot always do what he wants when he wants to. Eventually the child reaches the genital stage, that is, he becomes aware of his own penis. About this time, he also realizes that girls don't have penises and irrationally concludes that they have been castrated by Daddy to prevent...


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...smaller but clearly important role. Of equal importance, Lacan's theory is easily applicable to either gender. Mirrors work for male or female and a child of either sex can surely feel a desire to return to the safety and comfort of the mother's breast. In conclusion, I believe that Freud's Oedipus Complex was incomplete due to limited scope and sexism. Lacan's interpretation addresses these issues, creating a more versatile and acceptable Oedipus Complex.


Works Cited

Braungardt, Jurgen. Theology After Lacan: A Psychoanalytic Approach. 1999. U of Pennsylvania. 9 Nov. 2000
http://dept.english.upenn.edu/.../theology.html.

Davis, Tom. The Theories of the Mind Lectures. Ed. G. Baston. Birmingham University. 9 Nov. 2000
http://www.bham.ac.uk/english/bibliography/CurrentCourses/Freud/.

Lee, Jonathan Scott. Jacques Lacan. Boston: Twayne Publishers,1990.

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