Definition: According to Freud, a largely unconscious process whereby boys displace an erotic attraction toward their mother to females of their own age and, at the same time, identify with their fathers.

Quite Simply...

  • Boys divert their unconscious attraction away from their mother to female peers and try to become more like their fathers.
  • Boys tend to like girls that are similar to their own mother.
  • A boy has an unconscious attraction toward his mother, so he takes these feelings and displaces them towards girls his own age.

Examples of The Oedipus Complex

  • external image think-of-her-as-your-mother.jpgJohnny develops an interest in a girl his own age that resembles his mom. After seeing his dad buy his mom flowers, he buys flowers for the girl he likes.
  • Billy sees that his mom is a good cook so he starts to ask girls in his class if they can cook, in search for a possible mate.
  • Kevin's dad is a soldier, so he wants to enlist in the military after graduation.
  • Bob sees his dad working out to get stronger, so he asks if he can work out with his dad so that he too can get stronger.
  • Every girl Joe has dated so far has had the same sort of hair color and cut. Looking back at it now, Joe realized that his mom had the same exact hair color and cut.
  • Samuel dates a girl who is very outgoing and crazy. He later realizes that his mother is also very outgoing, much like the girl he dated.

See Also...

  • Identification, which is the process that occurs in the Oedipus Complex.
  • Sigmund Freud, the psychologist who theorized the Oedipus Complex.
  • The Unconscious, which, according to Freud, is where our thoughts related to the Oedipus Complex reside.
  • Penis Envy, which occurs when girls experience the female version of the Oedipus Complex (called the Electra Complex).

Additional Resources