Friday, October 28, 2011

castration complex vs Oedipus complex vs. father complex

As everyone knows psychoanalysis fell from grace because in the hands of active-masculine psychiatrists, who always had to be the master, everything became about the Oedipus complex.

In my work to understand I've been able to find some clear delineation of several stages around the Oedipus complex in Freud's work, although he still seems guilty of using the terms that distinguish them indiscriminately. I'll try to share the relevant passages in the next few posts and hopefully find the time to talk about them soon. The first is the father complex in latency as the true stage of the full internalization of the superego:

It is easy to show that the ego ideal answers to everything that is expected of the higher nature of man. As a substitute for a longing for the father, it contains the germ from which all religions have evolved. The self-judgment which declares that the ego falls short of its ideal produces the religious sense of humility to which the believer appeals in his longing. As a child grows up, the role of father is carried on by teachers and others in authority; their injunctions and prohibitions remain powerful in the ego ideal and continue, in the form of conscience, to exercise the moral censorship. The tension between the demands of conscience and the actual performances of the ego is experienced as a sense of guilt. Social feelings rest on identifications with other people, on the basis of having the same ego ideal.

Religion, morality, and a social sense—the chief elements in the higher side of man—were originally one and the same thing. According to the hypothesis which I put forward in Totem and Taboo they were acquired phylogenetically out of the father-complex: religion and moral restraint through the process of mastering the Oedipus complex itself, and social feeling through the necessity for overcoming the rivalry that then remained between the members of the younger generation. (The Ego and The Id, p.37)

Here what is important is that the 'father complex' is tied to an ideal of obeying' injunctions and prohibitions'. This has to be differentiated from the ideal of excellence, the phallic ego ideal, that Freud ties to castration complex that precedes the Oedipus complex. [In later posts I distinguish between the proto-phallic ego ideal with its castration into language and the phallic-narcissistic or phallic-deutero ego ideal with the mother giving the child a phallic image].

The father complex can be paired up with the obsessive-compulsive’s famous transference:

almost every description of this personality type will refer to the fact that the [compulsive is] often quite submissive to authority on the one and hand and correspondingly authoritarian with those under their control or those perceived to be beneath them in status. Their reliability, conscientiousness, obedience to rules, etc., may be viewed as characteristics of their subservience to authority. Their stubbornness, obstinacy, and defiance may be viewed as permissible rebellion against such authority, particularly where it is righteous (Johnson, Character Styles, p.276).

As another characterologist puts it, the identity theme in the compulsive is “a sense of pride in one’s intellect and moral fiber” and a sense of owed recognition and approval from others because of their masterful self-control (Josephs, Character and Self Experience, p.142).

Here it isn't the anal obsessionality that is important in the compulsive character but clearly the father complex in which the superego's internalization means that the compulsive's 'moral perfection' becomes a source of narcissism and the ego has developed to a stage in which group identities and the injunctions and prohibitions of them are now pathways along which desire can now flow. The compulsive may want to be smartest and have the ideal of excellence but it is paired with also being the model employee, model citizen, and the tyrannical adoption of shoulds and oughts related to being "adult"

After differentiating the other ideals in the other complexes I'll explore the complex's symbols and myths to talk about the genetic factor in the child's upbringing.

This post is updated

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