Is it possible that the Oedipus Complex is real? Freud couldn't prove this because normal people were too afraid to come forward and testify to his theory. My point is when we have erotic dreams, sometimes, I recognize that person as my father - subconsciously, I have a loving relationship with my mother and father. But those dreams make me think about Freudian theory. We can't completely deny the possibility of Freud's theory being true. Another point is when we look for marriages, we get attracted to older people and especially to those who are similar to our parents - in nature, characteristics, and personality. I know Freud is criticized, but we are too ashamed and afraid to admit his theory was true. And if it is not, why do we have sexual dreams of our parents?

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    Not likely. Freud's clinical observations were not reproduced and his Oedipal predictions (to the extent that he made them) did not materialize in modern studies. His master argument for the complex does not stand up to scrutiny either, see Wakefield:"Although Freud’s arguments are brilliantly conceived, he misread the facts of the Hans case and failed to support the Oedipal theory as judged by his own stated evidential standards."
    – Conifold
    Commented Jun 20 at 14:04
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    Are you sure you want to post this under your real name? Commented Jun 20 at 22:11
  • "people were too afraid to come forward and testify to his theory" someone testifying to their own Oedipus complex would be very strange considering its supposed to be subconscious. Men are not supposed to be cognizant of the fact they desire their mother, and as such can't be ashamed of something they don't know about. And if they have a good relationship to their dad the analyst can always say they are gay, and if it turns out they are happily married say they are just repressing it. The analysts always win.
    – armand
    Commented Jun 25 at 6:10

3 Answers 3


IMO one should consider Oedipus and Electra complex (introduced by C. G. Jung) in the broader context of development psychology. The whole subject centers around the task to discover and to accept his/her sexual role during adolescence.

Freud considered the Oedipus complex to be the core dynamic of all neuroses. To prove themselves true Freudians, psychoanalysts for decades interpreted all observations in the light of this theory. Massive objections came from the so-called neoanalysts (Horney, Fromm, Sullivan, etc.) since the 1930s. After the research of the last decades has shown an increasing importance of the other development aspects […] this assumption is now only rarely held. (Original in German: S.O. Hoffmann, G. Holzapfel: Neurosenlehre, Psychotherapeutische und Psychosomatische Medizin. 6. Auflage, 1999)


Boys have a stronger sex drive than girls, but they don't know that when they are young. They would like to believe women have a sex drive at least as strong as theirs, so they imagine the libido of a woman is so strong a mother would have sex with her son. That's not true, but little boys don't know it. Their imagination may infiltrate their dreams in some cases. But the point is, they want to believe something that isn't true. That's the cause of an Oedipal complex.

  • Not in the childhood, but even in our adult age, we dream - and that unknown person seems to be our father/mother. That's what I've dreamed once upon a time a few years back and now Im confused. Commented Jun 20 at 15:36

The Substance

[My personal opinion]

Freud is a dirty guy who spoke deep truths.

The truths are also not the original, which was Sophocles. [Freud took half the name of his most cited contribution — Oedipus complex — from the tragic hero of Sophocles play Oedipus Rex]

If you want the truths go to Sophocles. He remains as vivid and gripping today as he was 2000 years ago. The undisputable originality of Freud is in the recognition that Oedipus remains as alive and gripping today as in 429 BC.

The form

If OTOH you're looking for the form in Freud — early 20th century psycho-speak — his student Jung is much better with his Archetypes, dream studies, Gnostic meditations etc than Freud's pompous academic sounding projected sexual fantasies.

The above is a genuine answer.

Title Question

The technical answer to your title question are the counter questions:

  • Are numbers real? Do they grow on trees, or ordered off Amazon?
  • Is Justice, Gratitude, Compassion... real? What are their respective colors and weights?
  • Am I real? You? How do I/you know?

In short, you cannot even begin to do philosophy if you dont make some Platonic assumptions. As soon as you make these the classic problems of Platonism are there: How can you empirically affirm the reality of non empirical things?

So the real answer (for your question) is that Is Oedipus complex real? is not a useful question.

  • Is it useful?
  • When?
  • Can I use it?
  • etc

such will still be more useful to you. Of course then it will get closed out here as psychology not philosophy 😂

PS. I did not notice it was already closed. Heh!

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