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Freudian Dictionary

Parents as Love Objects

The first love-object of the boy is his mother, and she remains as such in the formation of his ffidipus- complex, and, ultimately, throughout his whole life. For the little girl, too, her mother must be her first object (together with figures of nurses and other attendants that merge into hers); the first object-cathexes, indeed, follow the lines of the satisfaction of the great and simple needs of life, and the circumstances in which the child is nursed are the same for both sexes. In the ffidipus situation, however, the father has become the little girl's love-object, and it is from him that, in the normal course of development, she should find her way to her ultimate object-choice. The girl has, then, in the course of time to change both her erotogenic zone and her object, while the boy keeps both of them unchanged.[1]

Parents, Sexual Wishes Toward

But no fact has more claim to our attention than this-that a small child's sexual wishes are regularly directed towards those who stand in closest relationship to it; in the first place, its father and mother, and beyond them its brothers and sisters. For a boy, the mother is the first love-object, for a girl the father, so far as a bisexual disposition does not call also for the reverse attitude at the same time. The other parent is felt to be a disturbing rival, and is not seldom regarded with acute enmity.[2]


I could not point to any need in childhood so strong as that for a father's protection.[3]

The idea of being eaten by the father belongs to the typical primal stock of childhood ideas; analogies from mythology (Kronos) and from animal life are generally familiar.[4]

Father-Fixation (in Women)

We have made the most surprising discoveries about these women who display intense and prolonged father-fixations. We knew, of course, that there had been an earlier stage in which they were attached to their mother; but we did not know that it was so rich in content, that it persisted so long, and that it could leave behind it so many occasions for fixations and predispositions. During this time, their father is no more than an irksome rival. In many cases the attachment to the mother lasts beyond the fourth year; almost everything that we find later in the father-relation was already present in that attachment, and has been subse­quently transferred on to the father. In short, we gain the conviction that one cannot understand women, unless one estimates this preoedipal attachment to the mother at its proper value.[5]


A child's first erotic object is the mother's breast that feeds him, and love in its beginnings attaches itself to the satisfaction of the need for food. To start with, the child cer­tainly makes no distinction between the breast and his own body; when the breast has to be separated from his body and shifted to the "outside" because he so often finds it absent, it carries with it, now that it is an "object," part of the original narcissistic cathexis. This first object subsequently becomes completed into the whole person of the child's mother, who not only feeds him but also looks after him and thus arouses in him many other physical sensations pleasant and unpleasant. By her care of the child's body she becomes his first seducer. In these two relations lies the root of a mother's importance, unique, without parallel, laid down unalterably for a whole life­time, as the first and strongest love-object and as the prototype of all later love relations-for both sexes. The phylogenetic foundation has so much the upper hand in all this over acci­dental personal experience that it makes no difference whether a child has really sucked at the breast or has been brought up on the bottle and never enjoyed the tenderness of a mother's care. His development takes the same path in both cases; it may be that in the latter event his later longing is all the greater. And for however long a child is fed at his mother's breast, he will always be left with a conviction after he is weaned that his feeding was too short and too little.[6]

Phallic Mother

Important biological analogies have taught us that the psychic development of the individual is a short repetition of the course of development of the race, and we shall therefore not find improbable what the psychoanalytic investigation of the child's psyche asserts concerning the infantile estimation of the genitals. The infantile assumption of the maternal penis is thus the common source of origin for the androgynous formation of the maternal deities like the Egyptian goddess Mut.[7]

Mother, Antagonism to (in Women)

[The] strong [preoedipal] attachment of the girl to her mother ... is fated to give way to an attachment to her father. This step in development is not merely a question of a change of object. The turning away from the mother occurs in an atmosphere of antagonism; the attachment to the mother ends in hate. Such a hatred may be very marked and may persist throughout an entire lifetime; it may later on be carefully overcompensated; as a rule, one part of it is overcome, while another part persists. The outcome is naturally very strongly influenced by the actual events of later years.[8]

Her love had as its object the phallic mother; with the discovery that the mother is castrated it becomes possible to drop her as a love-object, so that the incentives to hostility which have been so long accumulating, get the upper hand.[9]

Mother-Identification (in Women)

The mother-identification of the woman can be seen to have two levels, the preoedipal, which is based on the tender attachment to the mother and which takes her as a model and the later one, derived from the Oedipus-complex, which tries to get rid of the mother and replace her in her relationship with the father. Much of both remains over for the future.[10]

==See Also++