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Dervin, D. (1998). The Electra Complex: A History of Misrepresentations. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 3(4):451-470.

(1998). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 3(4):451-470

The Electra Complex: A History of Misrepresentations

Daniel Dervin, Ph.D.

Although a reconsideration of the Electra complex may touch on valid aspects of early female development, the history of the complex is one of misrepresentations that ultimately conceal more than they reveal. While Jung originally proposed an Electra complex, it never fitted into his evolving conceptual system; and while Freud initially expressed interest, he soon rejected this version of the girl's counterpart to the boy's Oedipus complex. But instead of disappearing, the concept was appropriated by academic psychology as a touchstone of Freudian orthodoxy. An inquiry into the Greek origins of Electra's conflicted history, however, reveals a very different pattern of conflict, focused more on ambivalent love for mother than on simple hatred for her and erotic desire for father. In light of current gender history and psychoanalytic research on the girl's psychosexual development, the complex comes into clearer focus.

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