Jake's Arts One Blog

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Only the Oedipus Complex?

One of the things that seemed strange to me about Freud was that although he discusses the Oedipus complex (desire to sleep with one’s parent), he doesn’t discuss the reverse of this (desire to sleep with one’s child), which I think is an important factor. For instance, at around the middle of Oedipus the King there are┬ádefinitely signs that Jocasta has already worked out the truth about Oedipus for herself, but she urges Oedipus to drop the matter and not find out for himself. This would seem to be an indication of her willingness to continue to be in a marriage with her son, even if only for the necessity to maintain their ways of life. So why doesn’t Freud talk about the reverse of the Oedipus complex?

Now it was pointed out in seminar that Freud briefly talks about how Leonardo da Vinci’s mother most likely “substituted her little son for her lover” (88), however he says that this is only for “unsatisfied mothers”, whereas the Oedipus complex supposedly pertains to everyone. From this we can obviously see that Freud didn’t simply forget about the reversal of the complex, and indeed discussed it, but didn’t do so in depth. This would lead me to believe one of three things: either Freud couldn’t explain the subconscious love that all parents have for their children; he didn’t believe that there always was a subconscious love for children among parents; or, and this what I take to be the real reason, that during the time that Freud was writing on the subject, he could not say that parents had a deep and repressed sexual desire for their children without receiving an enormous backlash and harsh criticism. I think this last reason is more valid because I’m sure that if he had tried hard enough, Freud could’ve devised an explanation for parents’ sexual desire for their children, and, since he liked to connect everything to sex, also almost definitely believed that all parents had this desire. However, he couldn’t alter the environment that he was writing in or fully communicate to people what he believed. The population was already outraged at the notion that all children had a sexual love for their parents, and since any suggestion that would seemingly link millions of people to subconscious pedophilia would only be received worse than this, I believe that Freud chose not to publish the majority of his thoughts on the matter. So if Freud were writing in this day and age, I’m sure we would be reading a lot more about the repressed sexual desires that our parents have for us.

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