OEDIPUS COMPLEX A controversial theory advanced by Sigmund Freud, for whom the ancient Greek myth of Oedipus held unacknowledged truths about the family unit. In the story, not knowing his real parents, Oedipus kills his father and marries his mother. Horrified when he discovers the truth, he blinds himself.

Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) claimed that the myth confirmed an insight he had gained in his work with children: that a little boy's first sexual wish is directed at his mother, and his first murderous wish is aimed at his father as rival. This ‘Oedipus complex’ is (usually) resolved because the boy fears as well as hates his father, whom he invests with the power of castration. He internalizes his father's authority, ...

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