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What are the Psychosexual Stages Pt3

What are the Psychosexual Stages Pt3

The Oedipus complex begins with the young boy’s incestuous attraction to his mother.  Hostility develops towards his father, who is viewed as a rival for the mother’s affection.  The boy then fears retaliation by the father in the form of castration anxiety, which gains credibility from the observation that girls have already suffered this fate.  Alarmed by this prospect, the boy renunciates his hostility and identifies with his father (if you can’t beat them, join them).  Freud believed that the superego develops around this time, as “heir” to the Oedipus complex, comprising values internalised (introjected) from parents through the process of identification. The superego is the bulwark against incest and aggression. The mechanism of repression also assists with resolving the Oedipus complex, so that the child becomes unaware of parental fears and attractions.

The Electra complex is more convoluted and appears to represent a weakness in Freudian theory, albeit one acknowledged by Freud himself.  The initial sequence is identical to the Oedipus complex: incestuous attraction to the mother, hostility towards the father and fearing his punishment. It is suggested that the girl then concludes that she has already been punished and blames her mother for this. Penis envy develops and, wishing to restore the lost organ, the girl becomes attracted to her father. The heterosexual oedipal scenario continues from there but, due to “punishment” having already being administered, is resolved less completely than in the boy’s situation.

Difficulties at the oedipal and electral phases of development may lead to complications in superego formation (such as Freud’s controversial assertion that women have weaker consciences), gender identity and interpersonal relationships (e.g., with authority figures or regarding inappropriate attraction to others resembling the opposite sex parent).  Other fixation characteristics relating to the phallic stage include pride, vanity and timidity.

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