Oedipal and Castration Complexes

According to Freudian psychoanalysis the fear of removal of the penis initiates the castration complex[i]. Freud believed that between 3 and 6 years of age, i.e., during the period which he defined as the phallic stage of sexual development[ii], the attachment of the child to the mother develops into the Oedipus complex.[iii] It stems from the desire of the child to sexually possess its mother (or the parent of the opposite sex according to other psychoanalysts) and to kill its father. With boys oedipal feelings lead to child–father rivalry and castration anxiety which consists in the unconscious fear of being castrated by the stronger father as a punishment for their desires.

Sigmund Freud theorized that oedipal feelings are subjected to psychological repression[iv] therefore they are rejected from consciousness and remain operative at subconscious level. The successful repression of the castration anxiety leads to identifying with the same sex parent and reveals itself in dreams, art or Freudian slips.[v] The unsuccessful repression causes partial arrest in emotional development and psychological fixation[vi] to earlier libido objects and results in neuroses[vii] and sexual perversions. The incomplete repression of libido desires produces neurosis which consists in continual attempts to prevent them from returning. Vanity and over-ambitiousness in adult men as well as smoking of cigars, for instance, are considered outcomes of a psychological fixation acquired during early childhood due to fear of penile loss. Failure to repress libido desires results in the pursuit of alternative sexual gratifications and sexual perversions such as paedophilia, incest, homosexuality, masochism, sadomasochism and sodomy.

Formation of Oedipus Complex and Castration Anxiety and their Psychological Effects

Formation of Oedipus Complex and Castration Anxiety and their Psychological Effects

Freud deemed that oedipal anxiety was preconditioned by the difference in genitalia of sexes, infant’s libido, and family lifestyle. Therefore the oedipal feelings as well as the castration anxiety resulting from their repression are physiologically and socially predetermined. Freudian psychoanalysis considers castration anxiety a normal and inevitable stage of emotional and instinctual development. The successful use of the anxiety in boys leads to their identifying with the castrator. It motivates the assuming of the strong masculine role and therefore provides for the patriarchal structure of society. On the other hand the unsuccessfully repressed anxiety underlies neuroses and sexual perversions. Thus according to Freudian psychoanalysis the unconscious sexual desire of the child for the mother is central to mentality. The oedipal feelings and their repression determine all forms of sexual behaviour and orientation.

Unjustified Sexual Basis of the Oedipus Complexand the Castration Anxiety

Psychoanalysis considers that the sexual ingredient of oedipal feelings is similar to lasciviousness in adults. This, however, contradicts the endocrinologcal facts.[viii] Knowing about the role of sex hormones in sexual motivation and their differential proportion in sexes we do not need the Oedipus complex to explain neither the aggression, vanity and rudeness of men for which children dislike their fathers nor the emotionally warm, submissive and insecure personality of women for which children like their mothers. Likewise, the biological facts that the secretion of sex hormones depends on age and is very low before puberty disprove the strength of the sexual element in the mother-child attachment and question the worth of the oedipal complex and the castration anxiety.

Psychoanalysis conjectures that oedipal feelings have purely sexual nature and that they are resolved by repressing libido desires. Notwithstanding, ascribing sexuality to the attachment of a child to its mother is biologically unjustified. Psychoanalysis seems to ascribe undue sexual motivation to children. The desire of the child for the mother cannot be considered to be of sexual nature. It is originally asexual at least because nature is economical. Children are sexually immature and have very low level of sex hormones. Naturally, a child’s affection for its mother lessens as the child grows, learns and acquires independence. During the process of sexual maturation children undergo the sexual differentiation[ix] for which they are programmed instead of assuming sexual roles in order to minimize displeasure.

The child identifies with the same-sex parent under the dictate of imperative biological factors, and not because of the need to reduce fears. No sexual desire of children has been repressed or redirected during their growth but rather the affection for the mother has simply been outgrown. The developing sexual desire during the process of sexual maturation finds its targets among the available ones. That in certain rare circumstances sexual desire for the mother may develop later in life does not entail that it has existed in infancy.

“The idea that boys want to sleep with their mothers strikes most men as the silliest thing they have ever heard. Obviously, it did not seem so to Freud …”
Steven Pinker [xiv]
Normally, adult men are not sexually attracted to their mothers. Freud asserts that this is so because men do not want to know that their consciousness has rejected the sexual thoughts as unacceptable due to fear of penalty. Note that the psychological repression is quite a mental method for manipulating reality. It suggests that one becomes what one likes to think one is or what one is less afraid of. However, the sexual character of infants’ affections is biologically ungrounded which questions the great power of psychological repression to subdue sexual desires.
 
We have well-founded reasons to consider that that men do not desire their mothers sexually at least simply because the fondness for them they have had as children was not of sexual origin. Men are forced to hide their sexual desires from rivals and not from themselves in order to achieve easier satisfaction. Hypocrisy is a social skill rather than an actual rejection from consciousness. The normal absence of incest disposition does not require coexistence of parallel upside-down realms in the mind, but only pretence of humility. The near lack of sex hormones in children, the inactivity of human pheromones before puberty[x] and adaptation to body odours[xi] are known biological factors for the asexuality of their attachments resulting in avoidance of inbreeding.[xii] Living of adults and children up to the age of 6 together is known to make them sexually indifferent to each other. This phenomenon of reverse sexual imprinting is known as Westermarck effect.[xiii] The tedium and the struggle for supremacy that occur in long relationships are among the psychological factors that provide for sexual avoidance in families.

With all of these aspects obstructing the development of a child-parent sexual relation we find that incest avoidance is normal so the concepts of the oedipal feelings and castration anxiety are biased. We propose that male rivalry is an inborn genetically determined and hormonally governed attitude that normally manifests itself in the son-father competition. It may develop in a psychological complex and sexual frustration in adults given that their sexuality has been suppressed physically or mentally. The son-father competition attributable to castration anxiety is not sexually motivated although it may lead to sexual gains.

The psychoanalytic definition of sexuality is so wide that it seems to include any interaction among individuals and to motivate any activity. It stands to reason that psychoanalysis overstates sexuality in children’s motivation. The overstressed sexuality implies that its authors are sexually dissatisfied. Their sexual frustration should be common, subtle and directly undetectable since they have not recognized its role when conceiving the psychoanalytical theory. Could it be that the sexual frustration caused by circumcision has invented psychoanalysis and castration complex?

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