The Electra complex is a term used to describe the female version of the Oedipus complex.
体育投注网址It involves a girl, aged between 3 and 6, becoming subconsciously sexually attached to her father and increasingly hostile toward her mother. Carl Jung developed the theory in 1913.
Sigmund Freud, who developed the Oedipus complex theory, first developed the idea that a young girl child competes with her mother for the sexual attention of her father.
体育投注网址However, it was Carl Jung — Freud’s contemporary — who first called this situation the “Electra complex” in 1913.
Just as the Oedipus complex was named after a Greek myth, so is the Electra complex.
According to Greek mythology, Electra was the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. When Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus, killed Agamemnon, Electra persuaded her brother Orestes to help her kill both her mother and her mother’s lover.
According to Freud, all people go through numerous stages of psychosexual development as children. The most important stage is the “phallic stage” between the ages of 3 and 6.
According to Freud, this is when both boys and girls become fixated on the penis. Freud argued that girls fixate on their lack of a penis and, in its absence, their clitoris.
In a girl’s psychosexual development, Freud proposed, she’s first attached to her mother until she realizes she doesn’t have a penis. This causes her to resent her mother for “castrating” her — a situation Freud referred to as “penis envy.” Because of this, she develops an attachment to her father.
体育投注网址Later, the girl identifies more strongly with her mother and emulates her behavior out of fear of losing her mother’s love. Freud called this a “feminine Oedipus attitude.”
体育投注网址Freud believed this was a crucial stage in a young girl’s development, as it leads her to accept gender roles and understand her own sexuality.
Freud proposed that the feminine Oedipus attitude was more emotionally intense than the Oedipus complex, so it was repressed more harshly by the young girl. This, he believed, led to women being less self-confident and more subservient.
体育投注网址Carl Jung expanded on this theory by labeling it the “Electra complex.” However, this label was rejected by Freud, who said it was an attempt to analogize the Oedipus complex between the sexes.
体育投注网址Since Freud believed there were crucial differences between the Oedipus complex and the feminine Oedipus attitude, he didn’t believe they should be conflated.
The concept of “penis envy” has, in particular, been criticized as sexist. The Oedipus and Electra complexes also imply that a child needs two parents — a mother and a father — to develop properly, which has been criticized as heteronormative.
体育投注网址That said, it’s possible for young girls to experience sexual attraction toward their fathers. It’s just not as universal as Freud and Jung believed it to be, according to many in the field.
体育投注网址The Electra complex is no longer a widely accepted theory. Most psychologists don’t believe it’s real. It’s more a theory that’s become the subject of jokes.
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental or sexual development, reach out to a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or child psychologist. They can help guide you in a way that may settle your concerns.
Last medically reviewed on February 13, 2019