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Freud, S. (1924). The Passing of the Oedipus Complex. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:419-424.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:419-424

The Passing of the Oedipus Complex

Sigmund Freud

The significance of the Oedipus complex as the central phenomenon of the sexual period in early childhood reveals itself more and more. After this it disappears; it succumbs to repression, as we say, and is followed by the latency period. But it is not yet clear to us what occasions its decay; analyses seem to show that the painful disappointments experienced bring this about. The little girl who wants to believe herself her father's partner in love must one day endure a harsh punishment at his hands, and find herself hurled to earth from her cloud-castles. The boy who regards his mother as his own property finds that her love and care for him are transferred to a new arrival. Reflection deepens the effect of these impressions by insisting that painful experiences of this kind, antagonistic to the content of the complex, are inevitable. Even when no special events such as those mentioned occur, the absence of the hoped-for gratification, the continual frustration of the wish for a child, causes the love-lorn little one to turn from its hopeless longing. According to this, the Oedipus complex becomes extinguished by its lack of success, the result of its inherent impossibility.

Another view would put it that the Oedipus complex must come to an end because the time has come for its dissolution, just as the milk-teeth fall out when the permanent ones begin to press forward.

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