Biology And The Oedipus Complex
作者: Richard C. Friedman / 5701次阅读 时间: 2010年6月01日
来源: PEP 标签: OEDIPUS Oedipus

Biology And The Oedipus Complex

Richard C. Friedman, M.D. and Jennifer I. Downey, M.D.

Recent observations in the behavioral and neurosciences have raised questions about the ubiquity of the oedipus complex as well as about its significance for psychological development. The authors argue that the construct Freud called the oedipus complex in males is best examined in its component parts. One component— the incestuous wish—does not occur in all individuals. Another component—the boy's urge to engage competitively with other male figures, including the father—does appear to be biologically based in testosterone's effect on the brain and to be manifested in childhood rough and tumble play behavior. It is proposed that reexamination of the oedipus complex in light of recent findings about the brain and behavior is indicated and that play, in particular, can usefully be considered as a separate developmental line.

I venture to say that if psycho-analysis could boast of no other achievement than the discovery of the repressed Oedipus complex, that alone would give it a claim to be to be included among the precious new acquisitions of mankind.

Freud (1940, pp. 192-193)


Freud's personal investment in the validity of the oedipus complex as a fundamental building block in psychological development was intense and lasted his entire life (Freud, 1905, 1933, 1940; Masson, 1985). Psycho-analysis as a system of thought has

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largely retained the primacy of the oedipus complex as Freud described it. Thus, the vast majority of practitioners today still rely heavily on psychodynamic formulations that rest on the validity of the oedipus complex construct (Greenberg, 1991). Numerous therapists find that their clinical experience is organized and made coherent by such formulations. For the practicing psychoanalyst, oedipal conflict is “experience near.”

Recent observations in the behavioral and neurosciences have raised questions about the ubiquity of the oedipus complex as well as about its significance for psychological development. These new findings have led us to re-examine Freud's original oedipus complex construct.

In a review of anthropological and sociobiological data, Erickson (1993) argued that secure bonding during infancy is associated with incest avoidance later in life. Only when early bonding is disrupted is incest likely to occur. Although Erickson did not study fantasy, he pointed out that Freud had viewed castration anxiety as the major motivation for incest avoidance. Erickson questioned Freud's emphasis on innately determined incestuous desire and suggested that the motivation to commit incest might not in fact be intense, or even present, among children who have experienced consistently secure early bonding. Incestuous motivations and fantasies might be evidence of disruption of early bonding and therefore psychopathological.

Freud's hypothesis that the oedipus complex was a biologically determined, phase-specific phenomenon had earlier been challenged by Horney (1937), who hypothesized that it was shaped by sociocultural influences. Chodoff (1966) pointed out that Freud's ideas about childhood sexuality were not based on solid empirical evidence. He doubted the accuracy of Freud's psychosexual developmental theory, and he raised serious questions, as have other psychoanalysts (Schrut, 1993), about whether erotic attraction to parents should be considered a norm for children. Lidz and Lidz (1989) recently discussed cultural influences on the oedipus complex and questioned its universality.

Another reason for taking a fresh look at the oedipus complex

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derives from research on the etiology of psychopathological disorders. Freud (1940) hypothesized that unresolved oedipal conflicts were major, if not determining influences in the etiology of neuroses. Among the conditions once considered “neuroses,” however, are a variety of anxiety and depressive disorders as well as other psychiatric illnesses. Genetic, constitutional, neurophysiological, and psychosocial influences on the etiology of these diverse disorders have been elucidated recently. Thus, the oedipus complex does not appear to be as central in the etiology of mental disorders as Freud thought.

The same type of criticism applies to the concept of the superego. Freud emphasized the mechanism of identification with the same-gender parent as necessary for oedipal conflict resolution, believing that this identification results in the formation of the superego (1923, 1933, 1940). Today, the model of superego functioning generally accepted by psychoanalysts has been modified: identifications with both parents as well as other cognitive and psychosocial influences lead a child to develop moral values (Gilligan, Ward, and Taylor, 1988; Kagan, 1984; Kohlberg, 1976, 1981; Tyson and Tyson, 1990), which contribute crucially to superego genesis. Revision of Freud's hypothesis concerning superego formation parallels criticism of his model of female development and psychosexual functioning (Schafer, 1974).

Freud's psychosexual developmental theory was further weakened by empirical research in the area of gender identity development. Stoller (1968) and Money and Ehrhardt (1972) established that core gender identity—the sense of being male or female—is established prior to the onset of what had traditionally been thought of as the oedipal phase. Gender identity is a psychological construct, yet influenced by constitutional biological factors, cognitive development, and psychosocial learning. The relationship between core gender identity and genital knowledge is complex (Bem, 1989). Formation of core gender identity, however, is not dependent upon perception of the genital

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difference in the way that Freud thought, nor is it primarily motivated by castration anxiety (Coates, 1992; Fagot, 1985; Fagot, Leinbach, and Hagan 1986; Yates, 1993). It is likely that establishment of core gender identity precedes and organizes the way in which a child experiences oedipal conflict, not the reverse (Tyson, 1982).

Another area of profound change in psychoanalytic theory in recent years has been that of sexual orientation. Most contemporary psychoanalysts have accepted revision of a model generally adhered to during the two and a half decades following World War II in which homosexuality was equated with psychopathology (Socarides, 1978; Panel, 1986; Friedman, 1988; Isay, 1989). Yet most have also continued to believe in the fundamental importance of the oedipus complex in psychological functioning. The new ideas about homosexuality, however, raise fundamental questions about the role of the oedipus complex in development. How can “normal” resolution of oedipal conflicts result in homosexuality? Isay (1989) recently suggested that homosexual men are biologically predisposed to be erotically attracted to their fathers in a manner analogous to heterosexual men, who are predisposed to be attracted to their mothers. This speculation remains to be validated.

Thus, superego development, gender identity, sexual orientation, personality structure, the etiology of the neuroses (and the psychoses)—all seem to be subject to influences other than oedipal conflict resolution or failure thereof. The questions then are: What specifically is the role of the oedipus complex in development? Is the oedipus complex biologically determined or even strongly biologically influenced or not?

Although it is not possible to answer these questions completely at this time, we shall discuss recent developments in psychoneuroendocrinology and sexology which indicate the need for revision in basic ideas about the oedipus complex and psychobiology originally put forth by Freud and still influential today.

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Freud's (1905) ideas about drive/instinct theory included three concepts which many psychoanalysts believe are intrinsic to the notion of “biological” influence. The first is that instinctive behavior has an imperative, peremptory quality that is associated with a feeling of being “driven” (Rapaport, 1959). The second is that biologically “driven” motivational influences originate in the id (Freud, 1923, 1940). The third idea, a derivative of the second, is that sociocultural and biological influences on behavior are basically in conflict with each other. The relationship between nature and nurture is fundamentally adversarial. Internalization of social constraint on behavioral tendencies that are biologically influenced leads to continuous tension that must be mediated by intricate intrapsychic mechanisms (Fenichel, 1945; Freud, 1930).

In this article we explain why we believe that these ideas about psychobiology and culture have become outdated. The psychobiology of testosterone figures prominently in the discussion, and an understanding of current knowledge of the relationship between testosterone and behavior is necessary. We suggest that many of the ideas that Freud put forth about drive/instinct theory could profitably be reframed as ideas about the activational effects of testosterone. One important finding of behavioral science research has been that the pubertal and postpubertal activational effects of testosterone occur much later in the life cycle than prenatal (and in some species neonatal) organizational effects. Freud was unaware of this, since the organizational effects of testosterone on behavior were described only after his death (Money and Ehrhardt, 1972).

Organizational effects of testosterone occur prenatally and influence the structure and function of the brain. As we discuss below, certain types of childhood behavior are strongly influenced by the organizational effects of testosterone. Activational effects of testosterone influence only the frequency and intensity

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with which certain behaviors are experienced and expressed (Gorski, 1991; McEwen, 1983). The distinction between organizational and activational effects of sex steroids on the brain and on behavior is crucial for psychoanalytic theory, since the need for revision of outdated models of psychobiological aspects of sexuality is based on this distinction.

Freud was drawn to the Oedipus myth for personal reasons long before he had created psychoanalytic psychology (Gay, 1988; Masson, 1985; Sulloway, 1979). It is striking that despite radical changes in other aspects of his theory, Freud's view of the centrality of the oedipus complex in normal development and in deviance remained rock solid. Seduction theory came and went. Anxiety was initially attributed to “dammed up libido,” then seen as a signal that mobilized defenses. Childhood sexual conflicts, once viewed as the central influence in psychopathology, gave way to the dual instinct theory. The topographic model was succeeded by the structural model. No matter how wrenching the change in metapsychology, however, the oedipus complex remained for Freud the central, crucial psychological construct of childhood. This is important because the often cataclysmic changes in other dimensions of his theory raise the possibility that revision of the oedipus complex concept might also have occurred. In fact, it is difficult to see any change in Freud's ideas about the oedipus complex published between 1897 and 1940. He considered it to be as fundamental as his description of the mental mechanisms that are expressed in dreams, symptoms, and parapraxes, the phenomena of transference and resistance, and the usefulness of free association as a method of psychological exploration.


Freud and subsequent clinicians have considered the oedipus complex to be a psychological unit. According to this view, the manifestations of the oedipus complex are experienced in a typical

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narrative structure. In this article we will discuss the oedipus complex in male development only, since we believe that the intermediate biopsychological mechanisms that influence the way in which the complex is experienced and expressed are fundamentally different for males and females. In the boy's case the incestuous wish for his mother is considered to be biologically programmed to occur during a particular phase of development. Between ages three and six the child's sexual drive becomes more intense and object-directed. The boy's erotic desire leads to a parricidal wish. The combination of erotic and aggressive fantasies leads to fear of retaliation from his stronger, more powerful adversary. This is experienced as castration anxiety. The boy copes with the “complex” of unacceptable wishes and terrifying fears by identifying with his father. This strengthens the structure of his personality. He is now able to keep the entire oedipus complex from conscious awareness.

In structural terms, the incestuous wish arises as a result of pressures from the id. The fear of retaliation leads ultimately to internalization of representations of the father. These result in completion of the structure of the superego. The structured superego is able to support the ego in its repression of the incestuous and parricidal wishes, and the resultant fears. The child's behavior becomes regulated by an internal judge rather than by fear of punishment (castration) delivered by an outside agency (Engel, 1962; Fenichel, 1945; Freud, 1923, 1933).

We suggest that the oedipus complex for males may be thought of as a mental experience composed of several component elements. We consider these to be the incestuous wish, rivalrous competitive feelings directed at the father, parricidal fantasies, and fear of retaliation by the father in the form of castration. We focus in this article on only one of the multiple components of the oedipus complex and discuss below biological influences on the dominance-aggression father-son mental representations. Our purpose here is to summarize evidence that indicates there is an innate, biologically determined tendency for sons to feel rivalrous, competitive, and frequently

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although not invariably “aggressive” toward their fathers, and vice versa. What Freud considered to be a concrete parricidal wish is but one example of this general tendency and is not universally experienced. The biological influences on competitiveness and aggressiveness are not invariably associated with or reactive to erotic desire for the mother, although the two may often be linked. The erotic component of Freud's oedipus com- plex is, in our view, more variable than the dominanceaggression component, which is experienced and expressed from toddlerhood and which follows a developmental line of its own. We conjecture that the dominance/aggression component of the oedipus complex begins to be expressed during toddlerhood and is associated with language acquisition and increased mobility. As the boy becomes older, his capacity for language expression, mobility, and the elaboration of fantasy increases. This enhances the visibility of the expressions of his fantasy life. Thus, he has earlier experienced dominant/aggressive feelings, but these become expressed more openly as he grows older.

We turn now to consideration of the relationship between prenatal sexual differentiation of the brain and play and aggression during childhood. Whereas the empirical data base on childhood sexual activity is sparse, the data base on childhood play is substantial. The rationale for introducing the subject of play in a discussion of the oedipus complex is explained below.


The social organization of many species of mammals is similar in certain ways to the social organization of human beings. Such similarity invites the hypothesis that similar influences have led to similar social behaviors, despite dramatic differences in many other forms of behavior that appear to be species-specific.

In light of Freud's dramatic demonstration that childhood fantasy of imagined events or fantasied elaborations of actual

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events may have profound and lasting effects on psychological functioning, it is particularly helpful to contemplate forms of juvenile activity that humans share with other species. One such crucial area is the development of childhood play. Freud did not devote great attention to this subject. As a scientist and healer, he was more interested in love and work; and as an essayist and man of letters, in sex and death. It remained for other psychoanalysts to systematically discuss childhood play (Piers, 1972; Winnicott, 1965, 1971


Human beings are the only species to create objects for their offspring to play with. Artificially created childhood toys may be thought of as tools to facilitate the play function (Fagen, 1981). Because of the capacity for sophisticated cognition, human play is often highly intricate and complex. Despite some uniquely human features, much play of children, however, is quite similar to the play of the young of other mammals..

Lumsden and Wilson, 1983). In the words of one biologist who has studied animal play, “Young animals have chasing and wrestling matches. They play elaborate games resembling human tag, hide and seek, king of the castle, and blind man's buff. Young primates even enjoy being tickled. There are undeniable parallels between animal and human play” (Fagen, 1981, p. xi). Fagen also points out that “play behaviors represent structural transformations and functional rehearsals, or generalizations of behaviors, or behavioral sequences. In other contexts, these behaviors

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yield relatively specific and immediate beneficial effects. Winning a disputed resource, obtaining a food item, escaping a predator, using a tool are examples of such effects” (p. 4). In humans, childhood play serves multiple adaptive functions, and the fantasy life of children is typically expressed in play (Cohen and Solnit, 1993).

Fagen, 1981). These behaviors plus competition for territory or for hierarchical rank are commonly termed “rough and tumble play” (RTP).


In humans, as well as many other mammalian species, sex differences in social play occur. The behaviors that we label RTP constitute one category of childhood play in which sex differences have been reported in most cultures studied and which to a large degree are independent of rearing practices (Maccoby and Jacklin, 1974). Consideration of this category of behavior is enlightening with regard to questions about the interaction of nature and nurture and the role of endogenous, biologically influenced motivations in development..

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one sex than in the other differ in quantityWilson, 19788


Sex differences exist in RTP in large measure because of the effect of androgens on brain differentiation during critical periods of embryogenesis. The critical periods differ between species, occurring prenatally in nonhuman primates and neonatally in rodents (Gorski, 1991; McEwen, 1983). Androgen exogenously administered to pregnant monkeys results in female offspring having male-like patterns of RTP during childhood at a time when virtually no androgen is present in the blood of either sex (Phoenix, 1974). The same result is produced in rats if the androgens are administered during the critical period, and in humans if androgens are either administered exogenously during pregnancy because of obstetrical indications (Ehrhardt and Money, 1967))

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Ehrhardt, et al., 1968). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a disorder in which the biochemical pathways leading to the synthesis of adrenal glucocorticoid hormones are blocked, and androgens are synthesized instead. Since this is usually corrected very early in childhood by hormonal replacement therapy, the syndrome is often taken as a model of prenatal effects of hyperandrogenization. Whereas boys with this syndrome show no difference in RTP, the spontaneously occurring RTP pattern of girls with this syndrome is markedly boy-like (Friedman and Downey, 199393). This behavioral effect occurs across a wide range of rearing patterns and in children raised in families that differ with regard to endorsement of conservative or liberal sex role values.

Both rats and humans () may develop a genetically transmitted disorder in which their tissues are insensitive to the effects of testosterone. The affected young of these species, genetically male but phenotypically female, manifest typically female patterns of RTP. Research on other types of childhood hermaphroditism supports the conclusion that prenatal androgens organize the differentiation of the brain in such a way as to influence childhood RTP. Stated somewhat differently, it may be said that the “hard wiring” of male and female brains differs as a result of the prenatal effects of androgen, and this difference leads to postnatal behaviors that are expressed at a time when no sex differences in circulating blood androgens exist (Gorski, 1991; ; McEwen, 1983).

Games like “king of the mountain” or wrestling contests are typical ways in which the tendency toward RTP is expressed. It is perhaps sobering to acknowledge that in addition to human beings, young monkeys, baboons, gorillas, horses, zebras, goats, sheep, deer, pigs, rats, guinea pigs, gerbils, and the young of numerous other species all participate in versions of such activities (Fagen, 1981). Unlike many other forms of behavior, including sexual activity, RTP behaviors of early life are strikingly

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In discussing sex differences in social play of mammals, Meaney (198989

In many social mammalian species, the demands on the animals differ as a function of gender. The sex differences in the social play of the juveniles appear to reflect these differences, such that young males and females engage in behavior from which they are most likely to benefit developmentally. In the case of play-fighting, the early hormonal environment increases the tendency to engage in play-fighting. For the males of several species this is likely to be of considerable adaptive significance. Thus, perinatal androgens appear to influence selectively the type of interactions from which social learning is derived (p. 259).

It appears that this is a good example of what animal behaviorists refer to as the interaction between biological and social events.

Thus the ability of the animal to integrate effectively into a social dominance hierarchy emerges from the experience of play-fighting which in turn is enhanced by perinatal androgen exposure. However, this is not really an “interaction” at all and in fact, the term shrouds our understanding of the timing and nature of events that might be involved. The term “cascade” may be preferable, referring to the sequence of events that regulate the development of behavior. In this case, one phase of development underlies the next with considerable plasticity retained throughout development. This exceptional plasticity in the behavioral development of juvenile males and females later emerges in the form of individual differences within the sexes as adults (ibid.).

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adaptation. As a bench researcher in the basic sciences and not a psychoanalyst, Meaney made observations more in keeping with Sandor Rado's (1940) paradigms than with Freud's. Rado stressed the significance of adaptation for psychological development. Freud on the other hand emphasized that the relationship between biology and culture is basically adversarial. The adaptive behaviors that Meaney discusses are not aggressively motivated for the purposes of destruction. Rather, establishment of dominance relationships leads to social organization that allows large social units to function effectively. In the natural world, males that compete during their juvenile years are rarely wounded or killed. Even later in life, although mature males of many species may in fact be fatally injured during battles for dominance, death is the exception rather than the rule.


Biological factors that predispose to RTP not only influence activities that may be observed and even quantified, but also influence fantasy as well. For example, the fantasies of girls with early corrected congenital adrenal hyperplasia have been systematically studied. Such girls tend to shun doll play and feminine adornments such as earrings and necklaces and prefer boy playmates. They fantasize about vocational performance more than age mates who tend to daydream about marriage and childcare (Friedman and Downey, 1993; Money and Ehrhardt, 1972).).

In the case of normal boys, fantasies that are based on competitive

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In order to place the next part of the discussion in perspective, we begin with some observations about altruism. “Purely” altruistic behavior is relatively rare among human beings, unquestionably less prevalent than various forms of aggressive destructiveness (Wilson, 197878

The play behaviors that we have called RTP may sometimes be a precursor to social behaviors, based on cooperation and even altruism later in life. For example, hierarchical social organizations that are similar to or elaborated versions of those of juvenile males on athletic teams exist in many areas of adult life. Some social functions seem best carried out by such organizations. Teams of various sorts (not only athletic) are one example of this. In these social units, competition for a particular niche

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may be viewed as being in the service of a “higher” form of cooperation. Destruction of one of the participants in the competition would weaken the social unit. Struggles for dominance in this type of situation may be a way of establishing expertise at roles that are required by the larger society.

Sports Illustrated, July 1993, p. 48). Nonhuman mammals rarely, if ever, put their lives at risk to help nonkin in this fashion. Many other instances of human altruism toward nonkin have been documented (Oliner and Oliner, 1988). Offerdahl's remarks implicate transference as a mechanism influencing motivation in that regard. His altruistic acts required athletic abilities, and he was predisposed to carry out such acts because of his longstanding affinity for RTP. The psychosocial effects of rearing would appear to influence the adaptive function to which RTP abilities are put later in life. In nontechnical parlance, children who have been loved are prone to behave lovingly toward others. In fact, childhood RTP may have important functions that are not necessarily related to social dominance at all. Development of psychomotor skills need not be in the service of competitive struggles. For instance, the scene of two children tussling, giggling, and thoroughly enjoying themselves suggests possible bonding functions of RTP.


Without claiming to be comprehensive, we review below some common situations in which the endogenous predisposition to

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RTP may present as a major component of the total clinical picture. In these situations constitutional predispositions influence the way in which oedipal enactments are expressed in the family. For example, the “setting” that regulates the motivation toward RTP may be extremely different between father and son, and either may be more inclined toward RTP. This type of imbalance in itself is not necessarily problematic. Countless fathers and sons negotiate their differences about these and other matters successfully. Some do not, however, and we first consider a father-son pair in which the father has the higher motivation to participate in RTP.

This type of father experiences a consistent feeling of pressure to participate in RTP activities even during adulthood. A weekend athlete, he spontaneously organizes “touch” football games when friends and family socialize. This father follows organized sports and may have a season ticket to the games of his favorite team. He identifies with the athletes and relishes in his imagination the dramatic competitive struggles that they engage in.n.

The son in this family is not particularly motivated to participate in RTP. (The reasons for the existence of a wide range of endogenously experienced motivations is not known.) The father is disappointed that his son does not share his enthusiasm for athletic activities. He spends much time attempting to teach his son how to throw a ball, swing a bat, and be proficient at other athletic tasks. Despite good intentions, the father usually becomes irritable in reaction to his son's awkwardness. His pedagogical style is hypercritical, demanding, and tough-minded. Between ages five and twelve or so, the son tries to better himself at activities that his father enjoys. After that, he gradually loses interest in them. Father and son drift apart, and by the boy's teenage years, they spend very little time together. The son grows older and becomes an intellectual. Both father and son feel deprived. The father wishes he had a “pal” who could be more “normal” like him. The son wishes that he had a father who could understand and accept him.

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In this type of situation both father and son are likely to feel alienated and depressed in their family setting. The father devalues his son for not being athletic, but also secretly devalues himself for not being “intellectual.” The son is likely to have internalized his father's standards for masculine behavior. Despite a self-contained façade, he secretly feels inadequate.

Let us now consider a situation in which a son is at the higher end of the RTP spectrum and his father is at the lower end. Once again we focus only on the parent-child pairs not able to tolerate such disparity.y.

In this hypothetical case, the father is a sedentary intellectual who devalues RTP which he considers “barbaric.” His wife shares his values. They have scholarly ambitions for their young son and are put off by his competitive, physically adventurous temperament. Since earliest years he has been drawn to RTP. Despite all admonitions and criticism, he careens through childhood with abandon. By the time he is ten or twelve years old, he is embattled with his parents. As his autonomy has increased with age, so have their punishments and constraints. A hero to his peers, he is an outcast in his family. Because he does poorly in school despite being intellectually gifted, his parents seek psychiatric consultation. All three members of this family are angry and depressed. As far as the son is concerned, he participates in athletics as a “natural” way of life. “I was born this way,” he says, and he is more or less correct. Careful history- taking reveals that the entire behavioral repertoire that is unacceptable to his family is confined to RTP. The boy has no symptoms of antisocial behavior, no learning disability, no impulse

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The situations outlined above are meant to illustrate only some of the ways in which the endogenous motivation to participate in RTP enters the clinical situation. Understanding the origins and manifestations of these behaviors is necessary in order for a clinician to be optimally helpful to his or her patients. Because of limitations of space, we did not describe the other parent's role in the family system. Obviously, the mother's input can ameliorate or exacerbate difficult situations. Our purpose here, however, is not to discuss family dynamics, but simply to make the point that the endogenous motivation to participate in RTP is not only of theoretical interest but of direct clinical relevance.


In distinguishing RTP from aggression we have essentially taken one subgroup of behaviors that Freud would have considered to be manifestations of “activity, mastery, dominance” out of the “aggression” category, leaving other subgroups having destructiveness as their goal. Thus, we would go so far as to suggest that it is “instinctive” to be motivated toward RTP and “instinctive” therefore to be motivated toward physical competition with another male. Unlike Freud, who assumed that oedipal father-son competition was associated with unconscious homicidalal fantasies, we raise the possibility that oedipal-age competitive feelings sometimes stem from an impulse to play. We speculate that parricidal fantasies become more common following the testosterone surge of puberty and even then may not be universally experienced.

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The term “aggression” generally connotes destructiveness. Moyer (1976) has suggested that the term “aggression” applies to behavior leading to damage or destruction of some target. He has proposed a classificatory system based on characteristics of the stimulus that evokes aggressive responses. The categories (which are not mutually exclusive) are predatory, inter-male, fear-induced, irritable, territorial, defensive, maternal, instrumental, and sexual (p. 5). We agree with the usefulness of defining aggression in terms of motivated destructiveness. In human psychological functioning the concept of “destructiveness” must, however, include both actual and fantasized damage to an object.

There is no question that Homo sapiens is an innately aggressive species, and therefore many find it intuitively appealing, as Freud did, to conceptualize an “aggressive” instinct. There has never been a time in all recorded history without war and violent crime. Our species appears to have an omnivorous appetite for destruction. We are the “natural enemies” of each other, of most other mammalian species, including those who have no other natural enemies, and even of other diverse life forms that constitute the planetary ecosystem.

E. O. Wilson (1978) has written:

Human aggression cannot be explained as either a dark angelic flaw or a bestial instinct. Nor is it the pathological symptom of upbringing in a cruel environment. Human beings are strongly predisposed to respond with unreasoning hatred to external threats and to escalate their hostility sufficiently to overwhelm the source of the threat by a respectably wide margin of safety. Our brains do appear to be programmed to the following extent: we are inclined to partition other people into friends and aliens. In the same sense that birds are inclined to learn territorial songs, and to navigate by the polar constellations, we tend to fear deeply the actions of strangers and to solve conflict by aggression. These learning rules are most likely to have evolved during the past hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution and thus to have conferred a

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biological advantage on those who have conformed to them with the greatest fidelity (p. 119).


There is substantial evidence that the same prenatal organizing hormonal influences that predispose moststmanyny to be truly aggressive.

Glick and Roose, 1993; Goodman, et al., 1993; Lewis, 1967; Maccoby and Jacklin, 1974; Moyer, 1974; Prentky and Quinsey, 1988; Valzelli, 1981). Across all measures in all studies, and in all cultures studied and throughout recorded history, males have been found to be more aggressive than females (Moyer, 1974, 1976). Of course, just as females engage in RTP, so they also may be violently destructive. Most violence, however, is enacted by postpubertal males. This, despite the fact that substantial childhood violence goes unreported since its victims are other children. Sex differences in prepubertal aggressivity, however, also occur in the expected direction (Gilligan, 1982; Maccoby and Jacklin, 1974)—that is, males are more likely than females to engage in it.t.

Despite these observations, the relationship between aggression and male sex steroids is not simple. At postpubertal physiological levels, testosterone does not immediately “cause” aggressive activity. Children as young as age four who have the

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Money and Ehrhardt, 1972). Aside from sexual violence (Bradford and Pawlak, 1993), hyperaggressive predispositions are usually unresponsive to elimination of testosterone or blockage of its effects. Only at very high pharmacological levels, such as are used, for example, without prescription by athletes, do androgens seem to predispose to violence and paranoid thinking. In adults true aggression appears to be expressed as a result of intricate interactions between absence of constraints, stimulating social circumstances, and constitutional predispositions of various types. Adult levels of testosterone probably do predispose many men toward aggressivity for a variety of reasons, many of which are indirect. A man who has an impulse disorder and is predisposed toward sexual violence, for example, might become overtly violent when frustrated sexually. Many interactions involving testosterone exceed the scope of this article (Rose, 198585). In children, true aggression appears to be expressed as a result of similarly complex interactions. Thus many children undoubtedly have the capacity to be truly aggressive, and therefore to harbor destructive and even homicidal fantasies.

Given the great prevalence of “true aggressiveness” even in childhood, there is no great difficulty in finding parricidal fantasies among oedipal aged boys. Whether such fantasies are truly normative, or merely constitute the expression of a specific subgroup of an even larger group who are predisposed toward competition but not necessarily toward mortal competitiveness in fantasy, seems uncertain. What is more important, in our view, is that the fantasies of aggression and dominance in the relationship between son and father are not necessarily predicated upon the erotic desire for the mother (or in the case of those constitutionally so programmed, erotic desire for the father), but are a manifestation of an independent psychodevelopmental line.

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In this article we have reframed the oedipus complex in order to emphasize two components which we believe are more universally experienced than the incestuous wish. These two components are competitive-aggressive impulses toward the father or father figure and fear of the father or father figure. These components are not, in our view, necessarily contingent upon the child's erotic fantasies. Nor are they necessarily dependent on each other.

We have a number of reasons for believing sexuality and RTP fall along different developmental lines. From a neurobiological perspective, the RTP testosterone-dependent system is influenced by biological mechanisms that are fundamentally different from those that determine and control erotic activity. Space permits only a brief summary of the relevant differences here. Those who wish a more inclusive discussion are referred to recent reviews (Byne and Parsons, 1993; Friedman and Downey, 1993; Gorski, 1991; LeVay, 1993; Meyer-Bahlberg, 1993).).

In brief, there are two major biochemical pathways by which androgens organize the structure of the central nervous system. In one major pathway, androgens are converted to estrogens intraneuronally, and the biochemical response of the cell is actually to the estrogens. In the other major pathway, the cell responds directly to androgens, and these are not metabolized to estrogen in order to exert their effect. Sex-stereotypical mating behavior, which in rats includes mounting, intromission, and ejaculation in males and lordosis in females, and other forms of sexual activity in primates, appears to be influenced by both pathways. In contrast, RTP is influenced only by androgen that is not metabolized to estrogen.

From a phylogenetic perspective, the neuroendocrine mechanisms that control RTP are similar in rodents, nonhuman primates, and humans. The neuroendocrine mechanisms that control

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sexual behavior, however, are fundamentally different in rodents and primates as can be seen in studies of the female animals (Karsch, et al., 1973). Thus, in the female rat the hypothalamic neuroendocrine control system that regulates cyclic secretion of luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland is permanently abolished by the organizing effects of androgens. In the female monkey and human, however, the neuroendocrine control system that regulates cyclic secretion of luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland is not permanently abolished by the organizing effects of androgens. Thus, in the rat, the organizing effects of androgens affect both RTP and cyclicity versus tonicity of sex steroid hormones. In the human, however, the organizing effects of androgens affect RTP but not the cyclicity of sex sterioid hormones.

influenceded by the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle, is not determined by these changes. Sexual experience and sexual activity occur throughout the menstrual cycle.

While RTP is dependent only on the organizing effects of androgen, sexual behavior is dependent on organizing plus activating effects of androgen. This difference in neuroendocrine control mechanisms is associated with a fundamental difference between prepubertal behavior patterns of RTP and sexual activity in various species. RTP exists in its full form in immature animals. Sexual behavior occurs in immature animals but not in its full form. For example, in nonhuman primates, specific sequences of behaviors are involved in mounting in order to carry out intromission. Immature animals typically carry out some, but not all of these sequences. The nonhuman animal data have some interesting parallels in the sexual behavior of children. Thus, a recent investigation of the frequency of various sexual

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behaviors in normal four to six year olds revealed that touching genitalia or displaying sex parts to others occurred reasonably often. Behaviors characteristic of adult sexuality were rare, however, and when present generally signified sexual abuse (Friedrich, et al., 1991

Moreover, the anatomic sites that regulate mating behavior are distinct from the anatomic sites that influence RTP (Meaney, et al., 1981; Meaney and McEwen, 1986; Oomara, et al., 1983; Perachio, et al., 1979; Valzelli, 1981). There are no data that would shed light on the degree to which human sexual fantasy depends on both activating and organizing effects of testosterone. Enough observational and clinical data have emerged to indicate that children often seem to experience erotic fantasy. For example, Galenson (1993) has said that in some children between fifteen and nineteen months of age, intentional genital self-stimulation with behavioral evidence of erotic arousal occurs. How frequently this behavior culminates in orgasm, however, has not been established. There is no evidence that such behavior is “normal” either in a statistical sense or as a predictor of future normalcy or psychopathology. It is certainly a credible hypothesis that the maximal potential for erotic fantasy is only achieved following the activational effects of sex steroid hormones. In males the hormones in question are testosterone and some of its metabolites. In females, the situation is more complex, since endogenous testosterone appears to play both a permissive and stimulatory role with regard to erotic experience. The hormones that are regulated by the menstrual cycle also appear to have major effects. It is safe to say, however, that postpubertal women are even less like prepubertal girls than postpubertal men are like prepubertal boys.

Data about the erotic experience and potential of adults compared to prepubertal children are compatible with the observations of analysts who have criticized Freud's ideas about childhood sexuality ( (Chodoff, 1966). We suggest that although many children experience sexual desire during or prior to the oedipal phase of development, many do not. They are likely to experience

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competitive rivalry and fear of their fathers, however. The oedipal narrative might appear


As a result of recent research on the etiology of diverse psychiatric disorders and on the genesis of moral values, as well as on the basis of revised psychoanalytic ideas about female psychosexual development (Tyson, 198282; Tyson and Tyson, 1990

Freud conceptualized psychoanalysis as a field of knowledge and inquiry that was grounded in biological science (Sulloway, 1979). Since his death, there has been considerable movement away from that perspective. We suggest that the time is right once again for integrating psychoanalytic theory with neurobiology. Just as psychoanalytic theory itself has grown and changed, however, so have the neural sciences. Reintroduction of the importance of brain functioning should not raise the specter of outmoded scientific reductionism. There is nothing intrinsically inimical about the integration of the realism of brain and mind with object relations theory, self psychology, and ego psychology, or with the belief that the field should also be rooted in the experience of highly sophisticated clinicians.s.

One idea of Freud's with which we have differed is the notion that the relationship between “biology” and “society” is intrinsically one of conflict. We have argued that Freud's enthusiasm for this idea seemed to be due to historical influences and also to the constructed narrative of his psychobiography. In fact, “biology”

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and “society” are best conceptualized, in our view, as different facets of a living entity that is integrated at different levels of complexity. We have suggested that the oedipus complex need not be conceptualized as a unit whose initially activated element is an incestuous wish. We have instead pointed out that a behavioral system seems to exist in humans and other mammals that follows its own developmental line and whose earliest manifestations are in play. Sometimes in some individuals it seems as if this system is part of a larger behavioral system organized by erotic fantasy, just as Freud suggested. These instances seem to us to be the exception rather than the rule. In fact, we agree with those psychoanalytic critics such as Chodoff (1966) and Schrut (1993), and nonpsychoanalytic critics such as Erickson (1993), who have questioned the validity of the incestuous wish as a primary organizing psychological event. We have pointed out that the adult human male is dangerous and is often likely to be perceived as such by women and children. The realistic reasons for little boys to be fearful of adult males influence the fantasy system of children.

We suggest that oedipal fears take the form of castration (symbolically represented as penectomy) because in boys, the external genitalia are integrated into the body image relatively late in development (Roiphe and Galenson, 1981) and are probably often experienced as exquisitely sensitive and fragile. We speculate that by the time of oedipal age, boys normally process anxiety somatically and in symbolic form as fear of castration. Although the law of the talion probably is often influential in development (Freud, 1913), we suspect that it is not the major “reason” penectomy is so frequently feared in boys. Children are both extremely concrete and also prone to certain types of generalizations. We would hypothesize that the tendency to represent anxiety in the imagery of castration is a phase-specific, constitutionally determined aspect of cognitive development. We conjecture that a wide variety of wishes deemed to be unacceptable might evoke castration anxiety in oedipal-aged boys, It might well be that following puberty, the expectation of punishment

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in the form of castration for unacceptable erotic desires is experienced much more commonly than it is earlier. It is a reflection of the still sparse knowledge about childhood sexuality that empirical data which would shed light on this speculation are presently not available.

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«Love and hate between mothers and daughters母女之间的爱与恨 俄狄浦斯情结