Electra or Oedipus complex in girls: how to manage this crisis?

While the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud theorized, in the early 1900s, the Oedipus complex to designate a child who has a loving and / or sexual behavior towards his mother, it is his then adversary disciple, Carl Gustav Jung, who formulates the Electra complex, i.e. when a girl shows romantic and / or sexual behavior towards her father.

Since then these two foundations of psychoanalysis have been strongly questioned and criticized but they can give some interpretations to the actions of children between the ages of 2 and 6 and above all they have made it possible to no longer deny the existence of a sexual desire in children.

Dad, dad, dad … Lucie, 4, only cares about her dad. In recent months she has shown a superb indifference towards her mother and her only his father finds favor in his eyes. With him she does a lot of things: winks, flirtatious smiles … she only deigns to dine if he’s the one who arranges her at the table and ties her napkin. And she proclaims it loud and clear: it is with him that she will marry. For her part, Laïs’s mother, 6 years old, is worried to hear her ask: ” Dad, do you love me more than mom? “. But what’s wrong with them? Nothing but trivial: they go through the period of the Oedipus complex, or rather Electra for girls.

Named in reference to the character from Greek mythology who had his mother and lover killed, responsible for the murder of his dearest being, his father, this concept designates the period during 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 refusal of one parent in favor of the other, the inverted Oedipus complex concerns cases in which the child expresses a loving and / or sexual behavior towards parent of the same sex. So it can be from a girl to her mother or from a boy to her father.

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

There is no need to dramatize, although this crisis can be quite difficult to manage. The Electra complex is instead a completely normal stage of development and psychic behavior. “ At the beginning of her life, the little girl had a close relationship with her mother. But she will gradually open up to the world and she will understand that she exists, like her father, another sex for which he will then develop a real curiosity “, Explains psychologist Michèle Gaubert, author of Her father’s daughter.

To better understand this period, the father must reaffirm and reformulate the relationship he has with his daughter, advises Alain Braconnier, psychiatrist and psychologist at the Center Philippe Paumelle, in Paris: “ In general, the father feels quite flattered to be so featured. But if he doesn’t set limits, his granddaughter can believe his wishes are achievable and continue her attempts at seduction. The psychiatrist then 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 be able to do it tactfully so as not to harm her, nor break the father-daughter relationship. A difficult balance to find. ” By refusing her harshly, you risk making her unhappy and preventing her, in adulthood, from approaching the masculine. “, Continues the psychiatrist.

Can a child really be said to be in love?

Young children can definitely have extremely strong feelings and say they are in love. But children are above all in a form of identification with one’s parents and they try to imitate the most widespread social model around him, which is often that of the couple. It is in this desire for assimilation, in particular, that he chooses a friend who will define him as his lover or his kindergarten lover.

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

3 years, 6 years … At what age does the Electra complex manifest itself in the child?

From the age of 3, the girl affirms her sexual identity. Her model is her mother. The child identifies with her to the point of wanting to take her place, and, thus, to seduce his father. So he sees her mother as a rival and tries to push her aside, sometimes violently. However, at the same time, she still loves him so much and feels guilty about her aggressive emotions.

Most of the young go through this stormy phase between 3 and 6 years. From the ambivalence of their feelings comes a disturbance, a confusion, which we parents, with our firm but understanding attitude, must evacuate.

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

Is our daughter royally ignoring us? Difficult for a mother to accept! ” During the Electra complex, the mother inevitably feels left out observes Alain Braconnier. It’s not about canceling us, the latter recommends: ” To develop harmoniously, the child needsevolve into a triangular relationship “. To rebalance the relationship, we think about giving ourselves special moments, between mother and daughter. This will help our little chip to do so. identify with us in other areas.

We also remember that our little “rival” is just a child, ours, who loves us and counts on us to guide her. We therefore avoid entering into rivalry and gently remind him that her father does not belong to him. We continue to be loving … and patient. Rather than ridicule or mock her, we reassure you, remaining steadfast. We can say for example: I too, when I was your age, dreamed of marrying my father. But that’s not possible. When I became an adult, I met your father, we fell in love and that’s how you were born.

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

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

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