According to Freud the Oedipus conflict spontaneously originates in children’s minds due to lust for the mother and fear of the father. Freudian psychology charges children with undue sex lust and fathers with undue power to repress their sexually. It exaggerates two hypothetical attitudes of mind in order to explain sexual neuroses by their conflict. It achieves this by employing the artificial polarization typical of abstract concepts.
But in reality such severe mental dispositions are not observed. Freud circumvented the difficulty by assuming that children’s lust for the mother and fear of the father are subconscious dispositions that tend to inhibit each other so none of them can be expected to be clearly observable and indisputably provable.
Fathers need not be so cruel in order for children to fear them because the fear of emasculation was imprinted in the subconscious mind during the cruel prehistory. Freud freed contemporary fathers from cruelty: they only appear brutal to children because unknown fathers in the remote past have been brutal and have frightened the generations to come. Fathers’ mercilessness is only a figment of children’s imagination. He cunningly replaced a missing evidence for his theory with a hypothetical and obscure non-genetic heritage, namely the fear of emasculation.
The mutually annulling evidences of the Oedipus conflict
The main components of the castration complex are children’s lust for the mother and fear of father. Children’s lust for the mother is postulated and seems displayed in the affection of the child to the mother. Their father-fearing is explained as a relic of fathers’ cruelty in the past that is generally repressed. Its operation can be deduced to weaken children’s lust for the mother and to motivate some dispositions in fathers such as religiousness or worship of the Great Father and traditional circumcision.
In actuality, neither are children so lustful nor are they as father-fearing as Freud theorized. He avoided this discrepancy with the subconscious and antagonistic nature of these attitudes. The main components of the castration complex are hidden in the unconsciousness; they mutually repress each other as love and hate do, so their existence can be only deduced. Each component needs to be weakened by the other in order for the castration complex to be substantiated. A dogmatic assumption and a suggestion mutually substantiate one another and their product – the Oedipus conflict. Their nonexistence is accepted to seemingly prove their existence.
Freud maintained that castration anxiety spontaneously originates in the psyche of children due to the collision of two inborn dispositions: strong libido and exaggerated fear of the father. The former disposition is of genetic origin while the latter is a mental historical heritance. This describes castration anxiety as entirely self-made and hence independent of conditions. The stronger children desire their mother the stronger the frustration that they suffer is. Thus, despite castration anxiety may be helped by external frustrations it is chiefly understood as an intrinsic propensity of the human psyche to amplify sexual frustration. A self-inflicted anxiety is, of course, uneconomical, but it is only the lost to memory evolution and history to blame for it.
Thus, a child experiences love and hate simultaneously. These mixed feelings are brain-generated frustrations. Therefore, castration anxiety is a type of innate insecurity, fearfulness, nervousness or oversensitivity to intimidation concerning sexual matters. We are apt to suspect that this sexual inadequacy is not a congenital integral part of the mind but is inflicted. And that this innate insecurity has led to the formulation of the castration complex.
Freud theorized that a prehistoric subconscious fear inhibited the free expression of our great sexuality. Two mutually cancelling brain-generated subconscious dispositions prevent us from knowing both how fearful and how sexual we are. No rational objection can be raised to the allegation that a secretive titanic struggle takes place in subconscious mind and makes people nervous. All of this makes psychoanalysis a perfectly self-sufficient, unobjectionable, abstract and hence dogmatic theory.
There is a broad consensus on the fact that frustrations produce anxieties and neuroses. Frustration is an anxiety in itself. Generally, sexual frustration experienced during childhood tends to cause sexual anxieties and neuroses. Sexual frustrations may stem from an inborn fearful disposition or may be inflicted by real factors such as physical reduction of sexuality, sexually restrictive moral or sexual abuse. They can even be caused by severe asexual constraints. By prioritizing the automatic subjective origin of the castration complex Freudian psychology belittles the objective factors that cause sexual anxieties including circumcision. It overestimates not only children’s sexuality but also the sexual component of the suppressions that children suffer. However, the symptoms of castration anxiety may be caused by objective, physical, innate or even asexual frustrations.