It is a nice normal day in American suburbia. The sun is shining. The birds are singing.
And best of all, a little boy standing beside a white picket fence is loathing in his own hatred for
his father because the man is stealing his, so rightfully deserved, attention from his mother. This
little neat phenomenon is called the Oedipus complex. Oedipus complex is when a young boy
hates his father because he is attracting attention from the boy’s mother. The female counterpart
to this is called the Electra complex. These two phenomenons are part of Freud’s psychoanalysis
The name “Oedipus complex” refers to the ancient Greek epic Oedipus Rex. In the play,
the main protagonist, and tragic hero, Oedipus is placed in an unfavorable situation; from birth it
was prophesized that he would to kill his father and marry his mother. Rightfully started, they
abandoned Oedipus in a different kingdom, so he would never come to his birthplace and let the
prophecy come true. Fate was solid in its decision of Oedipus’ fate; it ensured that the prophecy
would come true. Events unfolded that caused Oedipus to leave his adopted home and go on a
wild excursion of his own. On the road, Oedipus crossed paths with his father, though this
unknown to both parties, and like the prophecy foretold Oedipus killed his father. Later on in the
epic, Oedipus unknowingly encountered his hometown and saw a Sphinx plaguing the kingdom.
In order to save the town, Oedipus solved a clever riddle and killed the Sphinx and become the
king of the kingdom. Also, he married the recently widowed queen, whom unbeknownst to both
parties fulfilled the prophecy that Oedipus would marry his mother after he killed his father.
Finally, the prophecy continues as mayhem wrecks their lives just like the prophecy told, and
this has given the name to the popular psychology subject; Oedipus complex.
Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex corresponds with his theory of his stages of
development. The phallic stage is where the Oedipus complex presumably comes into play, and
it is believed by other psychoanalysts that as the child grows up and rationalizes his behaviors
and attitudes that the will outgrow these feelings of hatred for his father and matrimonial love
toward his mother. Another aspect of Oedipus Complex is to pick our mates based on our
parent’s physical appearance. To this day, there are still heated debates on whether this is an
accurate theory or not in the field of psychology.
One source of controversy occurred rather recently. The article stated that they had
plethora of evidence that pointed to solid evidence of the Oedipus theory. However, revolution
did not last long because when they reviewed their data they found a major flaw in their database
that caused this new spike in evidence. So this so called “evidence” is not a factual piece of work
that can be used in supporting Oedipus complex. Although their conclusion was proven false,
there was some data showing a 20% correlation of women who pick mates that slightly resemble
their fathers, which does point to the accuracy of the well controversial topic; Oedipus complex.
Thomas Bestul’s Works Cited
Borrel, Brendan. (2009, Febuary 29). Oedipus wrecked: study supporting
t h e m o t h e r o f a l l p s yc h o l o g i c a l c o m p l e x e s w i t h d r a w n . S c i e n t i f i c
American, Retrieved from
s tudy-wi t hdrawn
Perron, Roger. "Oedipus Complex." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. 2005. Retrieved
May 10, 2011 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-
Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. 429 B.C.