When people think about psychology and psychotherapy, especially those unfamiliar with the fields, most tend to think about Sigmund Freud and his theories on psychosexual development.

Oedipus and Electra complexes are among Freud’s most controversial theories.

According to these ideas, boys go through a phallic stage when they have an unconscious sexual attraction towards their mothers (with an absolute hatred of their fathers), while girls go through the same phallic stage with unconscious attractions towards their fathers and jealousy of their mothers.

The Oedipus Myth

The Oedipus myth, also known as the Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King, is a story from Greek mythology. It tells the tale of a man who unknowingly fulfills a prophecy about killing his father and marrying his mother. Oedipus, who was abandoned as a baby and raised by adoptive parents, sets out to uncover the truth about his past and the prophecy.

In the end, he discovers that he has unknowingly killed his father and married his mother, and he blinds himself in a fit of despair. The story explores themes of fate, free will, and the consequences of one’s actions.

The Electra Myth

The Electra myth is another story from Greek mythology. It tells the tale of Electra, the daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra. After Agamemnon is murdered by Clytemnestra and her lover, Electra seeks revenge on her mother and her mother’s lover for their crime.

She is aided in her quest by her brother Orestes, who ultimately kills Clytemnestra and her lover. The story explores themes of revenge, justice, and the complex relationships between family members.

The Oedipus and Electra complexes

Freud called these complexes the Oedipus complex for boys and the Electra complexes for girls. He believed that both boys and girls go through these stages between the ages of three and six (Sigmund Freud’s Psychosexual Development Theory, n.d.).

Several ideas that Freud developed are still used today (such as the idea of the id, ego, and superego); however, some of Freud’s theories have either been disproved or been extremely controversial as well. The Oedipus and Electra complexes tend to fall into the latter category.

Most people think of a sexual attraction towards their own family members as disgusting and incest. Of course, incestuous relationships are illegal in most developed countries and can lead to birth defects as well as numerous mental health issues.

So, where does Freud’s phallic stage come into play, or does it at all? If we look at Freud’s final stage of psychosexual development, then we may discover the answer. Freud’s final stage is titled the genital stage and Freud stated this stage began at puberty.

Freud believed that this was when previously dormant sexual desires became activated and boys and girls started exploring their attractions to the opposite sex (Sigmund Freud’s Psychosexual Development Theory, n.d.).

This last stage has proved fuel for the people that all that young boys want is sex and nothing else.


However, recent studies have even disproved this theory. It appears that boys that have just recently gone through puberty are looking for relationships with girls for closeness and trust (Norton, 2014).

Although the studies referred to in the article have not been large-scale studies, they certainly do refute the idea that young, pubescent boys are only focused on having sex in their relationships.

Freud’s genital stage was based on this notion, and his phallic stage was based on the notion that young three- to six-year-olds had unconscious sexual desires as well.

If pubescent boys and girls are not the sexual expressionists, that Freud may have thought they were, it would also imply that young three- to six-year-olds are probably more focused on playing with toys and friends than on unconscious sexual desires towards their parents.

Copyright © 2012-2024 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

power of misfits book banner desktop

Like what you are reading? Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss new thought-provoking articles!

Copyright © 2012-2024 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

Leave a Reply