The Oedipus Complex

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Lacan developed his views on the Oedipus complex, which have a very different emphasis from those of Freud, in a series of seminars and essays from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s.

In Freud's writings the Oedipus complex refers to an organized set of loving and hostile wishes which the young child experiences towards its parents.

The child desires the death of its rival, the parent of the same sex, whilst harboring sexual desires for the parent of the opposite sex.

According to Freud, the peak period for the experience of the Oedipus complex is at about three to five years of age.

He considered that the Oedipus complex played a fundamental part in structuring the personality, and in the orientation of human desires; and that it was basic to psychoanalytic theory and practice.


Lacan's particular contribution to this area of psychoanalysis is the emphasis he gives to the function of the lack of the object, and lack in general.