Electra complex  

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The Electra complex (aka "Daddy Issues" or the "Bernfeld Factor") is a concept found in Psychoanalytic theory that attempts to address issues of female development. It is based largely on the work of Sigmund Freud, and uses the Oedipal complex as a point of reference for its elaboration. Freud referred to it as the "feminine Oedipus attitude" in his own writings. It was later renamed the "Electra complex" by his contemporary Carl Jung.


The psychodynamic character of the daughter–mother relationship in the Electra complex derives from penis envy, caused by mother, who also caused the girl's castration; however, upon re-aligning her sexual attraction to father (heterosexuality), the girl represses the hostile female competition, for fear of losing the love of her mother. This internalization of “Mother” develops the super-ego as the girl establishes a discrete sexual identity (ego). The girl’s penis envy is rooted in biologic fact, without a penis, she cannot sexually possess mother, as the infantile id demands. Resultantly, the girl redirects her desire for sexual union upon father, and thus progresses to heterosexual femininity, which culminates in bearing a child who replaces the absent penis. Moreover, after the phallic stage, the girl’s psychosexual development includes transferring her primary erogenous zone from the infantile clitoris to the adult vagina. Freud thus considered the feminine Oedipus attitude (“Electra complex”) to be more emotionally intense than the Oedipal conflict of a boy, resulting, potentially, in a woman of submissive, less confident personality.

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