Oedipus Complex

The Oedipus complex is a symptom.  Just as any strong attachment to a person or a thing may be described as a “marriage,” and just as the primitive mind can express almost anything by using a sexual metaphor, so the regressive tendency of a child may be described in sexual terms as an “incestuous longing for the mother.”  But it is no more than a figurative way of speaking.  TDoP 75

To my mind, the way Freudian psychology has taken this myth and generalized it is quite wrong, for the Oedipus myth cannot be understood without the background of Greek civilization and what happened to it as a whole.  If you think of Socrates and the Platonists, you see that they discovered the realm of philosophy and pure mind in its masculine mental operations.  But when you know what happened to Plato when he tried to put his ideas into reality, then you see that they had escaped reality and had not found a philosophy with which they could form it.  It was a complete failure.  They discovered pure philosophy but not the philosophy which can be put to the test in reality.  In the same way they were the founders of basic physical and chemical concepts, but the Egyptians and the Romans had to change these concepts later into experimental science, for the Greeks could not put their ideas to the test in chemical experiments.  Their science remained purely speculative, even in its most beautiful forms, and with it came the endless split of the little Greek towns and the tragic decay of Greek civilization.  As soon as they were up against a nation with masculine and military self-discipline – the Romans – the Greeks were at a loss.  Therefore, although they were the great philosophical fertilizers of the Mediterranean world, they themselves could not follow up their own attempts in a creative way because they never understood the riddle of the Sphinx.  They thought that the intellectual answer was the solution – an illusion for which they paid.  The Oedipus myth is actually the myth of this stage of cultural development.  At the same time it is the myth of all those young men who have this same problem.  That is why it is also a general myth.  TPoPA 170