The Oedipus Complex was a term first coined by the founding father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, almost a hundred years ago. As a theory, it states that men and women sometimes end up marrying someone who resembles, in both looks and character, the parent of the opposite sex; but is it true?
I am by no means a psychoanalyst, but it’s not the first time that I dated a man whose mannerisms reminded me of my father’s. Understandably, this used to freak me out, I mean, as much as I love my father, I can’t handle another pipe-smoking, Walker-Texas-Ranger-watching man in my life! But what is this Oedipus Complex exactly?
In theory, the Complex manifests itself during the ages of three and sex (oops, Freudian Slip right there!), in the third-phallic stage when the libido is focused around the child’s genitalia – Freud’s words, not mine. The Complex affects different sexes in different ways, and boys often suffer from castration anxiety while us girls supposedly suffer from penis envy.
Now, the only time I ever suffer from penis envy – as far as I’m aware of – is when I get my period cramps and I curse the day I was born a woman, but then the pain subsides, I put my high heels on and the sky’s the limit. But there is more to this Oedipus Complex than meets the eye, apparently.
As the child starts identifying with the same-sex parent, his or her identity and sexual role become clear and the Complex is cleared. Some children, while suffering from the Oedipus Complex, sometimes become ‘fixated’ with the parent of the opposite sex and thus, later in life, the boy or girl might choose a partner who resembles that particular parent.
Although I was always a daddy’s girl, this really is worrying. I’m not sure whether I ever was ‘fixated’ with my father, but most of my exes were very similar to him… Their sense of humour, their dislike for Madonna, the way they emotionally hurt me – looking back, they really could have been my dad!
Freud believed in this Complex so much, that he actually wrote that if the Complex was not successfully resolved by the time the child was six then it might lead to neurosis, homosexuality or paedophilia. I guess that might explain my experimental phase at uni…
But, thankfully, so far, no one has been able to really prove that we marry our parents, and most of Freud’s theories have been disproved. So next time you’re dating someone who reminds you of one of your parents, just think of it this way: unless you’re related, there’s nothing wrong with it!
Think you are dating someone just like your mum or dad? Or do you disprove the theory by going for someone completely different? We’d love to hear your feedback!