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Is there such a thing as the Oedipus complex?

(7 Posts)
Eulalia Sun 12-Feb-06 23:01:42

Just been reading up on this. Not sure if I agree entirely with Freud's theory but feel that there is some sort of attachment stage to the mother. This is supposed to happen between age 3-5. My ds1 is 6.5 but has autism and is developmentally delayed and certainly emotionally delayed/disabled. Recently he's been quite clingy. More the way he is talking rather than his behaviour. We were sitting together on the sofa and he said how upset he was that I'd gone away one time - this was a trip I'd gone on to the theatre with dd and ds2 2 months ago. He said that he didn;t want me to go away and wanted to stay with me forever. I thought it was rather sweet in a way but also worried that he's being clingy. He's been like this on other occasions too and even got upset because I went 'away' for half an hour to have a bath this evening! dh stopped him from coming through to the bathroom and he was really upset and told dh "I hate you!"

So what I need to know is - is this normal, albeit rather a late stage of the 'Oedipus complex'. What is the best way to handle this - I know its hard because of his autism but even in an NT scenario advice would be useful.

How long does this last? He's my eldest and so I have no-one to compare him with. dd (3.9) is also being a bit clingy and I have ds2 who is 6 months so also quite needy and feel like I am being torn in three directions all the time!

nannyme Mon 13-Feb-06 03:12:22

Well surely the Oedipus complex/Freud's theory is all about the underlying sexual element to our familial feelings and instincts? Attachment is a natural process whereby sometimes we are strongly attached to our mother's and other times less so in an ever changing fashion. Whether or not we go along with Freud's take on things, the issue is one of attachment. I wouldn't complicate matters by adding thoughts of an incestuous quality to his behaviour. Maybe we do all behave in this strongly attched way as babies because it arouses sexual instincts in us. I doubt it, but so what if it does?! It will be a subconscious thing if that is what is happening psychologically.

6.5 is possibly quite old to be feeling so needily attached but as the boring old saying goes "every child is different" I don't know enough about autism, but maybe this is contributory?

Otherwise, I would say maybe something has happened which may seem minute to you, but that has upset him quite significantly and is thus causing this uncertainty.

Check back and let us know how it goes...

Eulalia Mon 13-Feb-06 22:15:49

Thanks nannyme - I think its a bit of both. An Oedipus thing and also autism playing a part whereby he want to control things.

He's getting a taxi tomorrow to his after school club so will see how he gets on without me.

Anyone else?

Medea Mon 13-Feb-06 22:21:37

I believe in it. I remember being completely in love with my dad between when I was about 3 and 4.

And when ds was 4 he literally (but unknowingly) pantomined the Oedipal scene of killing his father. He asked if he could marry me and I said, "No, I'm already married to Daddy." Then he began to (gently) beat dh on the chest and said, "If something happened to Daddy. . .THEN could I marry you?"

Dh and I had such a laugh over that. I do think, developmentally, they go through an Oedipal staage. And I think it makes sense you ds could be going thru this a little later.

I don't think there's anything TO do about it, really; they get through the stage on their own as far as I know.

nooka Mon 13-Feb-06 22:57:34

I should point out that the Oedipus story is about overcompensation. Oedipus was exposed at birth by his father because it was prophesied that he would kill him, and then he was adopted and then leaves his adopted home after the same prophesy is made in order to avoid it coming true, he then accidentally killed his father (he didn't know that he was his father) and then won the hand of his mother, again in ignorance. On discovering what he had done he then blinded himself. I think that Freud was just hung up on sex!

On a more serious point most children talk about marrying their parents / siblings etc way before sexual thoughts enter their heads. My dd still likes to play games of marrying both her brother and her Daddy, even though she knows this won't really happen. Children with autism find it harder to work through their feelings, look at the world in a different way and find change difficult. I do sympathise, but I suspect this probably is perfectly normal, and possibly mostly to do with your new baby. My dn, now 15 and autistic is still inclined to form "overstrong" relationships, which are starting to get a sexual dimension. I think that you have a few years before you need to worry about this though!

kleggie Mon 13-Feb-06 22:57:52

Well if you do believe in an Oedipal phase the way a child gets past it is by identifying with and internalising the values and morals offered by the father. Perhaps the way to translate this into rl is to encourage this identification by allowing him to exclusively enjoy time with your dh. It's a highly important stage of psychoanalytical devlopment and crucial to his maturation (if you accept Freudian theory), but is a largely Unconscious process which I guess in some ways you should not manifest in rl by trying to analyse it or change it. Plus, as part of the '3' (mother, father, child), most psychoanalysts would argue that you are too close to properly interpret his behaviour without projecting your own role as the desired mother onto him. Am I rambling? I think I'm rambling. My honest advice, don't worry about it.

Never ever ever ever do a PhD in Literature and Psychoanalysis. You'll start reading things into online chat forums.

Eulalia Wed 15-Feb-06 22:41:41

Thanks very much for the further input.

Well things went well yesterday and he took his taxi to the after school club and got it home again also. He didn't ask where I was so here's hoping the clingyness isn't going to last.

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