The Electra complex is the female counterpart of the more widely known Oedipus complex. The concept introduced by psychoanalysts has acquired a fairly large number of myths and stereotypes. In this article, we will try to figure out what is this complex, and how to get rid of it.
The emergence and development of the Electra complex
In the process of his psychological development, a person goes through certain stages, and at each of them, he discovers and acquires something new for himself. A great influence on this development has the immediate environment: parents, teachers, peers. And, although some aspects of this development and this influence may seem strange, they are all necessary and important for full-fledged maturity.
The presence in the classical family of two parents of different sexes is no exception to the rule. It is for them, for their role models, the child learns to identify with the representatives of his gender (and learns the appropriate behavioral patterns) and interact with representatives of the opposite sex. The Electra complex is, in fact, connected with this.
In general, this is a “rivalry” with the mother for the attention of the father. The foundations of such a complex are born at the age of 2-3 years when children show interest in their primary sexual characteristics and find that people are divided into two sexes. Specifically, in the case of girls, the result of such a discovery can be expressed in the so-called “penis envy” and, as a result, offended the mother because of she, who brought her daughter into this world, cheated her with this symbol of power and superiority. By the way, the point is in symbolism, in power and strength, personifying the more privileged position of men in society.
At about 5 years of age, the Electra or Oedipus complex fades a little, and it renews with a new force already at puberty. If a girl manages to get rid of him in a healthy way, then he ends up choosing an erotic object among peers of the opposite sex, and such overcoming inevitably entails some suffering because of the inability to win the competition for her father from her mother. All this happens, to a certain extent, unconsciously.
In general, the female counterpart of the Oedipus complex is usually experienced less sharply than that of boys. But there are cases when “to suffer and release”, having entered adult life with reworked experiences in relation to the father, naturally does not work. Such difficulties may arise in the following situations:
- Insufficient attention from the father. As already noted, the presence in the child’s life of both parents and their support is very important for the harmonious development, and in order to get rid of the Electra complex on their own, including. If the father is constantly not around, and when he appears, he gives her daughter little time, preferring to spend it with his wife, then she will unwittingly develop increased jealousy and resentment.
- Father’s leaving the family. Unfortunately, this problem is becoming more common every year. If the male parent leaves the family, the girl may blame the mother for that, may be jealous of the father for his new woman and their children. And to suffer due to the fact that the object of her lust, the attention, and care of which she so needs, has thrown her.
- Excessive custody by the father. This is the other extreme, which can provoke excessive attachment to the father and subconscious perception of him as his man, from which it is rather difficult to get rid of. Jealousy for the mother, in this case, can be expressed rather weakly. It is very difficult for women with such a problem to find real sex partners among other men since they are all “not good enough” compared to dad. And even if after some time the father decides to give his daughter more freedom and independence, she, who is not used to and not prepared for this, will be rather frightened and shocked than freed from the Electra complex.
- Weakness, “trouble” of the father. Another common option is when a man in the family is in a weak position. He may be an alcoholic, at whom his mother screams or regrets, or just a man with a weak temper, whom everyone sits on his neck, and whom his mother “keeps under his heel. In this situation, the girl may have pity for her parent, a desire to caress, to warm her, to protect her from her mother, who constantly demands something from him. And to refuse to care about him, to recognize the equality of all adults, it becomes very difficult.
These are the most common cases that can affect a woman’s behavior, her personal life, and happiness at any age. If in some of this you learn the situation from your childhood, then perhaps you should really think about the presence of the “stuck” Electra complex and the need to get rid of it.
How to overcome the Electra complex?
The best and most effective way to stop “dragging” the specifics of your childhood into the present is to undergo psychotherapy. A professional psychotherapist will help you see and understand what you cannot see from inside the situation and get rid of these phenomena. Independently, you can try to do the following:
- Recognize the legality of the union of mother and father. They have romantic feelings for each other, they created a family, and they both decided on having a child, and then raised him together. They are a self-sufficient, full-fledged couple, there is nothing missing or redundant in it. And the daughter, though part of the family, belongs to another circle of their close people. The child does not have access to the system of relationships that includes love and sex between father and mother. He will build such a system only with his own partner.
- Recognize the earthiness of the father. He is not perfect and not perfect, he is not a deity and is not a universal value that must be protected like frail porcelain figurines – he is just a man. With their shortcomings, their problems, and with their responsibility for their lives. His role in your life is limited to fatherly responsibilities and yours in his – child relation.
- Strive for independence. The less dependence on parents, the less painful attachment to them, even in adulthood, the less reason there is to maintain the Electra complex. Children should separate from their parents as they grow up, and go into their own lives. And it can be very fun and interesting.
- Choose your behaviors consciously. On the net, you can meet tips in the spirit of “a girl should flirt and smile because women do this, and affection for the father can cause the habit of behaving like a man. But here we are talking about gender stereotypes rather than how to get rid of the Electra complex. Fortunately, in modern society, it is much easier for women and men to be themselves and be different. You have the right to behave as you see fit but do it precisely because you have decided so. And not because this behavior would have liked my dad or angered mom.
These are a few basic tips that, at a minimum, will help to begin work on overcoming the Electra complex. If independent efforts prove to be insufficient, then it is better to turn to specialists in psychology, rather than trying to “cure” deep problems on your own.