Oedipus Complex

Sigmund Freud introduced the idea of the Oedipus Complex in his Interpretation of Dreams (1899). The term derives from the Oedipus we know, who unknowingly slew his father and married his mother; its female analogue, the Electra complex, is named for another mythological figure, who helped slay her mother. Without going into particulars, the concept is that one looks within oneself for explanations of aberrant and destructive behavior—not at circumstances or behavior. The problem is the attitude presented by the Chorus close to the end of the play: “O Oedipus, famous king,/You whom the same great harbor sheltered/As child and father both,/How could the furrows which your father plowed/Bear you in silence for so long?” (Bernard Knox Translation, p. 90) All the blame lies outside Oedipus—he is only the victim. Thus, Freud’s Oedipus Complex. The problem is that Freud recommended that we ignore what he called “guilt” and we Christians call “conviction.” Sigmund Freud gave the world permission to do what is right in its own eyes because it was to avoid guilt (or conviction). This destroyed the whole notion of redemption in many lives because it removed sin as a determining agent in human life.

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