Going beyond the oedipal sufferings of childhood* (per Sigmund Freud)

Oedipus and Sphinx

Oedipus fulfills a prophecy that he will marry his mother and kill his father. (Image source unknown.)

Recently some friends helped me see that on some level I presume all men I come in contact with are incompetent, unreliable, and irrational, and that they will feel threatened by me and want to undermine me.

This is because I felt this way in relation my dad when I was young, for reasons I won’t go into here. It was also pointed out to me that by bringing this expectation to men I meet now, in my adult life, I’m in a sense evoking that very response from them — just like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Or, worse, I might attract situations and relationships that in fact DO appear to confirm my suspicions about men.

My spiritual teacher calls this sort of thing an “oedipal pattern”, referring to the ancient Greek myth of Oedipus Rex** which Sigmund Freud described many years ago:

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), considered by many as the father of modern psychology.

“The significance of the Oedipus-complex as the central phenomenon of the sexual period in early childhood reveals itself more and more [as the child develops].  After this it disappears; it succumbs to repression, as we say, and is followed by the latency period.  But it is not yet clear to us what occasions its decay; analyses seem to show that the painful disappointments bring this about.

“The little girl who wants to believe herself her father’s beloved and partner in love must one day endure a harsh punishment at his hands, and finds herself hurled to earth from her cloud-castles.  The boy who regards his mother as his own property finds that her love and care for him are transferred to a new arrival.  Even when no such events such as those mentioned occur, the absence of the hoped-for gratification causes the lovelorn little one to turn from its hopeless longing.  According to this, the Oedipus-complex becomes [repressed] by of its lack of success, the result of its inherent impossibility….”

[Excerpted from Sexuality and the Psychology of Love, by Sigmund Freud.  (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1963.)  As included in The Basket of Tolerance, the Epitome of Traditional Wisdom sublist, section “On controlling the vital”, by Adi Da Samraj.  Parentheticals added by BoT Student.]

* The title of this post is inspired by the book The Complete Yoga of Emotional Sexual Life, by Adi Da Samraj.

** In the Greek story of Oedipus, there was a prophecy when he was born that he would compete with and kill his father and also desire and marry his mother.  To prevent this from occurring, he was sent far away from his family home.  And yet, when he became an adult, because of a lack of awareness of what he was doing, he still ended up living out the destiny foretold at his birth, with all the reliability of an actor following a script.  The story says that as long as he continued to enact this pattern, despite his “good intentions”, misfortune plagued everyone he came in contact with.

Questions for consideration:

  • Have you ever felt like you keep having the same disappointing experiences over and over again in relation to men and/or women?
  • Have you noticed that different people experience disappointment or difficulty in different ways, depending on their early-life environment?
  • If we have uninspected beliefs and expectations about men and women left over from childhood, is it enough to add positive thinking on top of that?

BoT Student

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