ELECTRA COMPLEX (A complete guide)

What is Electra complex?

“Electra complex” is a psychoanalytic term used to describe the female version of the Oedipus complex, in which a young girl becomes sexually attached unconsciously to her father and feels a rivalry with her mother, thus becomes progressively antagonistic toward her mother.

As per Sigmund Freud, during the female psychosexual turn of events, a little youngster is at first attached to her mother.

At the point when she realizes that she doesn’t have a penis, she develops penis envy, becomes attached to her father, and starts to loathe her mother who she faults for her “castration.”

Frued believed that this would occur during the phallic stage of his psychosexual stages.

These stages, he suggested, represented different fixations of the libido and as the individual grows, the body part that each stage is related to could become a place of either frustrating or pleasurable erogenous zones. 

Eventually, Freud theorized that the young girl starts to relate to and imitate her mother’s behaviors out of dread of losing her affection.

The child ultimately emulates her mother to the extent of strongly identifying with her and this resolves the electra complex. 

History of Electra complex:

While the term Electra complex is as often as possible related to Sigmund Freud, it was Carl Jung who coined the term in 1913.

Freud developed the Oedipus complex and  theorized the fundamental concept of the Electra complex, though he did not term it.

The term itself is derived from the Greek myth of Electra and her brother Orestes, who plotted to kill their mother in revenge of their father’s murder. 

Freud and Jung were initially dear companions and partners, yet Jung progressively became disappointed with specific parts of Freud’s speculations.

He felt that Freud underscored the job sexuality played in inspiring human conduct.

In the long run, Jung left his psychoanalytic affiliations and a level of hostility was developed between the two men. 

How does the Electra complex begin? 

One viewpoint Sigmund Freud gave a lot of his work is a psychosexual perspective and how sexuality is seen in the beginning stages of life.

It was one of the extraordinary upheavals of Freudian theory.

Up to that point, therapists had not imagined that youngsters could have sexuality. 

How we understand our sexuality and sexual driving forces during youth often plays a role in how we develop and how adjusted our psychosexual identity is.

Be that as it may, Carl Jung contrasted on these issues. Something that Jung saw is that there was something missing in Freud’s hypothesis.

The Oedipus complex concentrated distinctly on men and just on the exceptional physical and passionate security among children and mothers in the initial 6 years of life. 

In this manner, he built up his hypothesis of the Electra complex in 1912 to fill in that hole.

His thought was to carry that viewpoint to the field of female turn of events. 

The hypothesis clarified:

Ø  As indicated by Freud, all individuals experience various phases of psychosexual improvement as kids.

The most significant stage is the “phallic stage” between the ages of 3 and 6. 

Ø  As indicated by Freud, the phallic stage is when boys and girls become focused on the penis.

Freud contended that young girls focus on their absence of a penis and, in its nonappearance, their clitoris. 

Ø  In a young girl’s psychosexual turn of events, Freud proposed, she’s initially attached to her mother until she understands she does not have a penis.

This makes her detest her mother for castrating her — a circumstance Freud alluded to as “penis envy.” Because of this, she builds up a connection with her father. 

Ø  Afterward, the girl recognizes all the more unequivocally with her mother and emulates her behavior out of fear of losing her mother’s affection.

Ø  Freud found this was a significant stage in a child’s life, as it drives her to begin to acknowledge and comprehend her sexuality. 

Ø  Freud recommended that the ladylike Oedipus demeanor was more genuinely extreme than the Oedipus complex, so it was curbed all the more brutally by the child.

This, he thought, prompted girls to be less fearless and progressively subservient. 

Ø  Carl Jung developed this hypothesis by naming it the “Electra complex.”

However, this mark was dismissed by Freud, who said it was an endeavor to compare the Oedipus complex between the genders. 

Ø  Since Freud accepted there were critical contrasts between the Oedipus complex and the female version of the Oedipus complex, he did not believe they ought to be conflated. 

Case of how the Electra complex functions 

Ø  At first, the young girl is attached to her mother. 

Ø  At that point, she understands she doesn’t have a penis. She encounters “penis envy” and presents hostility towards her mother for her castration. 

Ø  Since she needs to explicitly have a parent and she cannot have her mother due to her anger about not having a penis, she attempts to become more attached to her father.

At this stage, she has unconscious, sexual attraction toward her father. 

Ø  In the end, she understands she would not like to lose her mother’s affection, so she becomes attached to her mother once more, copying her mother’s behaviors in an effort to relate better to her.

Ø  In adolescence, the child will begin to be attracted to males who are not related to her, as indicated by Freud. 

Ø  A few adults, Jung noted, could relapse to the phallic stage or never develop out of the phallic stage, leaving them explicitly connected to their parent. 

Attributes of the Electra complex 

The Electra complex includes various stages. Next, we’ll clarify quickly what each stage is and how it shows. 

First stage: being pulled in to the mother 

Carl Jung was sure that the bond between a young girl and her mother is substantially more extraordinary than between a boy and his mother in the initial three years of life.

In this stage, the young girl relates to her mother and begins to incorporate some of the maternal qualities of her mother into her own character and even disguise her profound quality in the “super self-image”. 

Second stage: being pulled in to the father 

At three or four years of age, the young girl ceases having such an appreciation for her mother and starts feeling a fascination towards her father.

The second stage begins when young girls find that they feel an attraction to their fathers and they realize they do not have a penis. So they feel a craving to acquire what this sexual organ symbolizes.

Moreover, psychoanalysts attest that this feeling towards the father creates a contention and separation of the child from the mother. 

Girls may get envious and show practices like possessive affection towards the father, as well as become hostile towards her mother

Third stage: resolution

Typically, after a child turns six, the electra complex is resolved through the realization that she never had a penis and thus, was not castrated by her mother.

Accepting her body and resuming an attachment with her mother is the key to moving through the electra complex.

In the event that the electra complex is unresolved, Freud believed the individual would develop a fixation that would last the rest of their life.

This fixation could lead to anxiety, neurosis, and/or maladaptive behaviors in adulthood.

Is the Electra complex recognized in the psychology field today? 

The Electra complex is not generally acknowledged in psychology these days.

Likewise with a significant number of Freud’s hypotheses, the female Oedipus complex and the idea of “penis envy” is additionally broadly reprimanded. 

Next to no information suggests the possibility that the Electra complex is validated. It is not included in the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 

As a 2015 paper brings up, Freud’s thoughts regarding psychosexual improvement have been censured as obsolete because they depend on exceptionally old views with no evidence. 

The idea of “penis envy” has, specifically, been condemned as chauvinistic. The Oedipus and Electra complexes likewise suggest that a child needs two parents — a mother and a father — to grow appropriately, which has been censured as hetero-normative. 

All things considered, it’s plausible for young children to encounter sexual fascination toward their fathers.

It’s only not as general as Freud and Jung trusted it to be, as indicated by numerous individuals in the field. 

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FAQ’s Questions:

How would you settle the Electra complex? 

Working through the Electra complex is a process that typically occurs naturally through the child’s maturity development.

It is the base id (a part of character present from birth) that requests the child to be attracted to her father and contend with her mother.

Through growth, the child will come to terms with the relationships she has with her parents.

Is Electra complex normal? 

The Electra complex is not, at this point, a broadly acknowledged hypothesis.

Most analysts don’t trust it is valid. It’s progressively a hypothesis that has become the subject of jokes.

In the case of concern about a child’s psychological or sexual development, connect with a mental health professional.

Still, it is not necessarily a bad thing for a child to develop an electra complex, as it is typical for a young boy to develop an oedipus complex.

For what reason is it called Electra complex?

The complex is named for Electra, whose mother killed her father as per Greek folklore.

Sigmund Freud could not help contradicting Jung that there was such an unbelievable marvel as the Electra complex and underlined that it was young men and young men alone who experienced love for one parent and contempt for the other.

What are the psychosexual stages?

The psychosexual stages are five periods in an individual’s development that relate to fixations of the libido.

Freud hypothesized them to be 1) oral, 2) back passage, 3) phallic, 4) latency, and 5) genital.

The electra complex was theorized to occur during the phallic stage.

 For more information about the electra complex, check out this book:

Focus On: 90 Most Popular Psychoanalytic Terminologies: Narcissistic personality Disorder, Pansexuality, Id, ego and Super-ego, Oedipus Complex, Libido, … Electra Complex, Defence Mechanisms, etc.

This book gives an overview of Freud’s most popular theories.

Within it, one can read more regarding the Oedipus and Electra complexes, along with other aspects of Freud’s psychosexual theories.

Freud’s Theory for Beginners: About Dreams, Psychosexual Stages, Id, Ego and Superego

This book explores Freud’s theories, specifically focusing on his dream theory, his psychosexual stages, the id, ego, and superego, psychodynamics, Jung’s take on psychoanalysis, and more!

The author strived to write everything in simple terms so everyone can begin to understand the beginnings of psychanalysis.


1.     https://www.verywellmind.com/

2.     https://www.healthline.com/3.https://www.simplypsychology.org/

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