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Oedipus complex

Oedipus complex, Freudian term, drawn from the myth of Oedipus, designating attraction on the part of the child toward the parent of the opposite sex and rivalry and hostility toward the parent of its own. It occurs during the phallic stage of the psycho-sexual development of the personality, approximately years three to five. Resolution of the Oedipus complex is believed to occur by identification with the parent of the same sex and by the renunciation of sexual interest in the parent of the opposite sex. Freud considered this complex the cornerstone of the superego and the nucleus of all human relationships. Many psychiatrists, while acknowledging the significance of the Oedipal relationships to personality development in our culture, ascribe love and attraction toward one parent and hatred and antagonism toward the other not necessarily to sexual rivalry but to resentment of parental authoritarian power.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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