Elektra or Oedipus complex in girls: how to deal with this crisis?

While the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud in the early 1900s theorized the Oedipus complex to designate a little boy who has an amorous and / or sexual behavior towards his mother, it is his disciple, then opponent, Carl Gustav Jung, who formulated Electrical complex, ie. when a little girl shows romantic and / or sexual behavior towards her father.

These two bases of psychoanalysis have since been heavily questioned and criticized but they can give certain reading keys to actions in children between 2 and 6 years of age and have, above all, made it possible no longer to deny the existence of a sexual desire in children.

Dad, dad, dad … Lucie, 4 years old, only cares about her dad. In the last few months, she has shown excellent indifference to her mother and only her father finds favor in her eyes. With him, she does tons of things: winking, flirtatious smiles … She only deserves to eat if he is the one who installs her at the table and ties her napkin. And she proclaims it loud and clear: it is with him she will marry. For her part, the mother of Laïs, 6, is worried about hearing her ask, ” Dad, do you love me more than mom? “But what’s wrong with them? Nothing but very banal: they go through the period of the Oedipus complex, or rather Electra for the girls.

Named after the character of Greek mythology who had his mother and her lover killed, responsible for the murder of the creature that was loved by him, his father, this concept denotes the period in which the child experiences unconditional love for the parent of the opposite sex and feelings of jealousy towards the parent of the same sex.

Definition of the inverted Oedipus complex

Another form of rejection by one parent in favor of the other, the inverted Oedipus complex, relates to cases in which the child expresses amorous and / or sexual behavior towards same-sex parent. So it can be from a little girl to her mother or from a little boy to her father.

Meaning: Why do daughters prefer their father and reject their mother?

No need to dramatize, though this crisis can be quite difficult to deal with. The Electra complex is, however a completely normal development phase and mental behavior. “ At the beginning of her life, the little girl had a close relationship with her mother. But little by little she will open up to the world and understand that it exists, just like her father, another gender for which she will then develop a genuine curiosity “, Explains psychologist Michèle Gaubert, author of Her Father’s Daughter.

To better understand this period, the father must confirm and reformulate the relationship which he has with his daughter, counselor Alain Braconnier, psychiatrist and psychologist at the Center Philippe Paumelle, in Paris: “ In general, the father feels quite flattered to be put in front of the stage that way. But if he does not set boundaries, his grandson may believe that his desires are achievable, and continue his attempts at seduction. The psychiatrist therefore insists that it is up to the parent to put the child in his place and show him that the couple exists outside of her.

However, you must manage to do it tactfully so as not to hurt her, nor does it break the father-daughter relationship. A difficult balance to find. ” By rejecting her harshly, you risk making her unhappy and preventing her from, in adulthood, approaching the masculine. “, The psychiatrist continues.

Can we really say that a child is in love?

Toddlers can certainly feel extremely strong emotions and say they are in love. But children are above all in one form of identification with their parents and seeks to emulate the most prevalent social model around him, which is often the couple’s. It is especially in this desire for assimilation that he chooses a friend whom he or she will define as his or her lover or lover from kindergarten.

This has nothing to do with what forms and represents a couple in adolescence and adulthood, and it is more for children to play, to pretend.

3 years, 6 years … At what age does the Electra complex appear in the little girl?

From the age of 3, the little girl confirms her sexual identity. His role model is his mother. The child identifies with her to the point that it wants to take her place, and thus to seduce his father. She then sees her mother as a rival and tries to push her aside, sometimes violently. Nevertheless, at the same time, she still loves him so much and feels guilt over his aggressive feelings.

The majority of the little ones are going through this stormy phase between 3 and 6 years. Out of the ambivalence of their feelings, a trouble is born, a confusion, which we parents, by our firm but understanding attitude, must evacuate.

What are the consequences of this crisis for the future of the relationship between daughter and mother?

Our daughter ignores us generously? Hard to accept for a mother! ” During the Electra complex, the mother inevitably feels excluded notes Alain Braconnier. There is no question of deleting us, the latter recommends: “ To develop harmoniously, the child needsdevelop in a triangular relationship “. To rebalance the relationship, we are thinking of giving ourselves special moments, between mother and daughter. This will help our little chip to identify with us in other areas.

We also remember that our little “rival” is only a child, ours, who loves us and expects us to guide her. We therefore avoid engaging in rivalry, and we gently remind him that his father does not belong to him. We continue to be loving … and patient. Instead of ridiculing or mocking her, we reassure her while we remain steadfast. For example, we can say: Also me, when I was your age, I dreamed of marrying my father. But that is not possible. When I was growing up, I met your father, we fell in love and that’s how you were born. »

Finally, Michèle Gaubert clarifies that in the event of separation of parents at all costs, it is necessary to avoid that the father or the mother who has custody only lives for the child. ” The risk is then to form a “little couple” with him. It’s good that the little boy or the little girl is in regular contact with a third party – a friend, an uncle or an aunt – to break the merger. Otherwise, it risks creating a lack of autonomy on both sides. », Analyzes the psychologist.

Courage, Oedipus and Electra will soon be nothing but literary memories!

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