The Oedipus and Electra Complex

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Phallic Stage – The Oedipus Complex

Boy starts to desire his mother and wants to have sex with her.

Boy sees father as a rival for his mother’s affection, and wishes to kill him.

He fears that if his father finds out about his feelings for his mother, he will castrate him. (Castration anxiety)

The boy is in a state of conflict. He resolves this by internalising (keeping it inside) and identifying with his father.

This leads to the development of the superego.

The boy substitutes his desire for his mother into a desire for other woman.

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Phallic Stage – The Electra Complex

The girl begins to develop penis envy. She blames her mother for removing her penis.


She starts to sexually desire her father who has a penis.


The girl sees her mother as a sexual rival for her father.


To resolve this, the girl identifies with her mother so that she can have her father.


The superego develops, as does gender identity. She replace penis envy with a desire to have a baby.

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