Summary of The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex-1924
The genital phase initiates the Oedipus complex. The genital phase is not merely a phase of masturbation and preoccupation of the genitals, it is rather a manifestation of the whole libidinal drive that connects (to have intercourse) with the mother or (to have a baby from the) father. The phallic and genital phase is the need of the libido to become outwardly connected and thus becoming directed outward towards intercourse with the mother or to replace the mother and to have intercourse with the father. The child’s bedwetting can be seen as the equivalent to the emission of the adults which is the manifestation of the readiness and inclination for intercourse.
Soon after the genital phase there manifest the latency period where everything becomes inactive and submerged. This shifting from total preoccupation to a sudden halt needs an explanation.
Freud addresses this question of how the phase of genitalia and Oedipus complex (of having intercourse with mother or having a baby with the father) becomes suddenly interrupted and submerged with the wrapping of latency period.
Freud begins with an explanation that after an extended period of longing (for the mother and father) and hoping and not being fulfilled and satisfied the desire ceases and discontinues and eventually turns inward. (Freud calls this the internal impossibility). Another explanation Freud gives is that the latency period is predetermined from birth and is equivalent to the death of the body which precedes its creation and thus the phallic phase ends because of the predetermined predecessor of latency period which forces its way in and interrupts the phallic phase.(Freud compares this with the falling out of the milk-teeth that become destroyed with the creation of the permanent teeth.) Freud explains that both of these explanations are true and can co-exist side by side simultaneously, however the psychological-mechanical science of how the interruption process takes place needs to be articulated and he will therefore put forth his major theory.
The phallic phase entails the child’s constant masturbates and manipulation of his genitals, which includes bed-wetting. When this behavior is met with disapproval from the parents and with the ‘threat of castration’ the child finds himself in a conflict. The child values this part of him and fears if it will be used it will be taken away from him. The ‘castration threat’ doesn’t penetrate and activate the child until the child has some real experiential sight of this threat. The activation of the castration anxiety takes place with seeing the females’ genital, assuming the female was castrated and thus the fear of castration now becomes a real possibility. The fear of castration is also preceded with two loses a) the loss of the mothers breast (which begins periodically and eventually permanently) b) the loss of his feces, which enable the child to perceive and anticipate another loss.
The phallic phase includes the whole relational aspect of the Oedipus complex. This includes two options the active and passive one. The active one means replacing the father and having intercourse with the mother, the passive one is replacing the mother by becoming the mother. This is met with the disapproval of the parents and with condemnation.
The child is now faced with a conflict between the libidinal cathexes of his parental objects as sexual objects and the fear of losing his penis through castration or becoming a woman. The narcissistic need to save his body part usually triumphs and he therefore gives up the ‘function’ of the penis for the savoir of the penis ‘itself’. He gives up the libidinal drive for his actual penis organ.
The process of the libido turning away is with ‘identification’. The child identifies with the father (or authority) and then ‘interjected’ him into the ego and forms a super ego, which replaces the external father. Now the internalized father, the super-ego secures and dams the ego from allowing the ‘libidinal object-cathaxes’ to return, which would put the ego in danger of castration. In other words, the super ego puts a dam on the libido and doesn’t allow it to go outward as a way of protecting the ego from the danger of castration. The process of inhibiting the libido can be defined as something more than the ordinary repression but as the abolishment of the libido. This is the process that ushers in the latency period. Chronologically the phallic and oedipus complex brings the castration threat which forms the identification which creates the superego which ushers in the latency period is typical however not necessarily precise.
In females where castration is not a threat the ushering of the latency period needs explanations. Freud postulates that the female’s clitoris serves as the phallic object like the penis. However when comparing herself to the male she assumes she has been castrated and once had a penis and now she struggles with the acceptance of her femininity, which he calls the masculine complex. The threat of castration isn’t there so the formation of the super-ego is weak and it’s based on the external loss of love she wants.
For the female the Oedipus complex entails the want to receive a baby from the father thus when the baby isn’t received her libidinal drive becomes sublimated for affection and becomes somewhat inhibited. The female inhibits her object-libido however this inhibition-super-ego is minor in comparison to the male’s inhibition.