General Question

seekingwolf's avatar

What do you think about the Elektra complex?

Asked by seekingwolf (10407points) July 6th, 2009

Do you think it really exists?

If it happens, does the female ever “get over” it by a certain age or with time? Or does it really effect her forever? If so, in what way?

What are some physical/emotional/spiritual manifestations of such a complex?

I don’t want to say anything about this topic as of yet. I just would like some answers/opinions. The internet and my therapist(s) are of NO help. They just give general descriptions of this complex, like a sort of theory almost, but nothing about it actually existing.

Thanks for your help guys.

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30 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I think its a well documented behavioral pattern though to claim it happens to all girls is a bit much.

juwhite1's avatar

I pretty much think it is quackery, but I know a lot of well educated people who work in that field who believe it exists, at least to some extent. They just disagree with the major focus on sexual conflict that spawned the theory.

tinyfaery's avatar

It’s about as true as the Oedipal Complex and Penis Envy. Meaning—it’s bullshit, like most Freud. He theorized within a very particular culture, class, and historic period. Psych departments mention his in a historical context, at most.

DrBill's avatar

The idea is based largely on the work of Sigmund Freud, I do not support his findings, because he only studied mentally handicapped people.

You cannot say what is sane if you don’t study sane people.

Darwin's avatar

While I am sure there have been situations that could be considered the result of such a complex, I do not believe in any way that it is considered a typical part of female development, just as I believe that the male version can happen but is not typical. Freud, being both a male and a product of the Victorian era, put undue emphasis on sex and genitalia.

Why, is someone trying to tell you that you are too attached to your father or something?

seekingwolf's avatar


Sort of. I already know I am too attached to my father. My mom and I sort of have a weird relationship. He barely has a relationship with her and I never see them be affectionate. My dad is basically my BEST friend and has been since I was about 2. We do everything together and I tell him just about everything and he tells me everything. I get “dad sick” when I go to college and have to call him everyday. I’ve lost all attraction to guys my own age and I only date guys who are in their mid 30s. I’ve been attracted to “older male figures” since I was…5? I remember vividly…I even have pictures that I drew back then that innocently portray my desire.

I’ve tried so hard to be “normal” and be like other girls but I can’t. I don’t like other girls and am pretty masculine myself. I never got in touch with my feminine side nor had any desire to. All of this has caused me (and continues to cause) a GREAT deal of guilt in my life, nightmares, and depression.

My therapists all say that I couldn’t possibly have that complex because it doesn’t exist…or they say I need to “grow out” of it. I’ve always felt so out of place. I can’t really describe what I’ve felt in my life because…words just don’t fit. I wish they did. but they don’t.

seekingwolf's avatar

It feels really weird telling people about this on Fluther and I’m worried about what sort of response it would produce…but what’s done is done, I’m afraid.

Supacase's avatar

I really don’t see anything so weird about being that close to your father. Plenty of mothers and daughters are that close and no one bats an eye. You two aren’t crossing any moral lines, so why not just enjoy the relationship? If you like older men, like older men. You’re not the only woman who is attracted to older men so I wouldn’t jump to conclusions about it having something to do with your relationship with your dad – unless you know for sure that it does.

I say stop worrying about it and/or reading so much into it unless it is causing you real problems. If it is the guilt, that is either something put on you by others/society or there must be something else going on between you and your dad besides having a close father/daughter relationship.

JMO. I am, of course, not a doctor.

Darwin's avatar

Maybe you just need to date older men. My grandmother was 17 when she married my grandfather, who was 30. They did fine and stayed married until my grandfather died at age 76.

Also, my husband is 11 years my senior.

In fact, once you find the right older man, you will probably not agonize so much about what your father is doing or not doing.

seekingwolf's avatar


All the guys I date are a LOT like my father…most of them wear the same scent that he does, same clothes, same body type, like the same foods, etc. Oh, and they look like him. Eventually, I have to dump them because I find some reason that they “aren’t like dad”. I’ve also always considered the idea of moving in with dad when I’m older and not marrying. I kind of like that idea.

The guilt comes from…well, lots of things, but probably a lot of being resentful toward my mom. we’ve NEVER gotten along…she’s tried to but I never could let her in for some reason. I have a lot of bad dreams about the whole thing if you know what I mean….a lot of guilt there. A lot of guilt because I know what I feel isn’t “normal” and I don’t know how to deal with it.

seekingwolf's avatar


haha perhaps you’re right. My dad told me something similar.

Supacase's avatar

Ok, I do understand your concern better. Just don’t spend so much time worrying about why you are who you are and if it is wrong that you never take time to enjoy your life and yourself. You aren’t doing anything wrong and everyone is different.

seekingwolf's avatar


Thanks :) I haven’t heard that in a long time and def not from my therapists!

And thank you to everyone else.

kenmc's avatar

I’m fairly certain that the Oedipal and Eleckra complexes aren’t literal…

Haven’t you ever met a person that always dates those like the opposite-gendered parent?

EG: The father of a woman was an alcoholic. She dates men with drinking problems.

JLeslie's avatar

Personally, I married a man who is very much like my mother. I always liked my mom so it makes sense.

kenmc's avatar

@JLeslie I’m fairly sure that the Elektra complex would be in reference to your father…

JLeslie's avatar

@boots I know. So I guess I don’t believe in it. I was actually the child closest to my father, my sister was my mother’s child. Maybe that is why I married my mother, because I wanted her love? Although, I never felt like my mother really had a favorite, just that my father did.

I just realized that when I wrote “it makes sense” that maybe it was interpreted that the elektra complex makes sense, I just meant it makes sense that I married my mom since I liked her.

seekingwolf's avatar


I think the “child of an alcoholic parent” can’t really apply here. That’s something completely different. A daughter who has an alcoholic father may be stuck in the role of being an “enabler” and thus believes that it’s natural and healthy, since that’s the kind of relationship that she grew up around. Thus, the process repeats itself over and over…

Elektra complex has more to do with (summarizing what Freud said here) when a daughter is really close with her father but (for one reason or another) is not close and may be resentful towards the mother and never resolves the issue that caused this. Sometimes, the issue isn’t resolved and this can affect the girl later in life.

I remain undecided about the validity of the sexual nature of this complex. It’s something I try very hard to push out of my mind because it brings up bad feelings and makes me feel uncomfortable. Judging from the dreams I’ve had since I was little, however, I would say that there is a sexual element to all of this.

The birth (and subsequent developmental disorders) of my younger sibs separated me from my mother. I felt like she sort of “forgot” me after that and we became distant and cold. Dad took care of me.

augustlan's avatar

@seekingwolf Some things that might help you:

1) Being close to your Dad is ok.
2) Fantasies (if they are happening) are ok, as long as they don’t cross the line into real life.
3) Dating older men is ok. Though you probably do need to work on not comparing them to your father and finding they come up short.
4) You are ok.

I truly believe that the goal of therapy (in most cases) is coming to grips with yourself just as you are. If your therapist isn’t helping you do that, don’t be afraid to look for another one. Not every therapist is right for everybody.

Last, but not least: {{{{{hugs}}}}}

nebule's avatar

A friend of mine told me recently that because he suffered a bad relationship with his parents as a child, in order to deal with it as a child he made the situation OK in his mind. As an adult he continued to seek that negative destructive environment of relationships – because that was what he was used to and ok with…anything else was alien and scary.

This fits in with my life very much. My father wasn’t around much as a child and wasn’t really (it seemed) that interested in me. I have sought relationships with older men all my life and they have turned out to be very destructive, I believe there are many psychological reasons for this behaviour but I also realise that i should be able to provide the attention i didn’t get from my Dad – myself.

I still try to have a fulfilling relationship with him and yearn to be noticed..really noticed… but I know I probably never will. I’m sure he does love me and think about me in his own way and perhaps I am being unfair on him. But I think there may be some longevity in the Elektra complex…

It’s also a possibility that I could just need a soulmate, friend and lover to fill a gap in my life…which might have nothing to do with my father but simply a requisite of nature and survival.

seekingwolf's avatar

@augustlan You’re absolutely right. I thought the fantasies were bad and I feel guilty for having them, but I guess they’re okay if they are just thoughts. I need to overcome that guilt.

My therapist at college is very kind (and it’s nice because my weekly visits are FREE) and she doesn’t berate me, but says she’s unsure because she’s never seen anyone with that sort of a complex…I am going to give her time. Thanks hugs :)

@lynnblundell Oh, that’s so sad. Unfortunately, it happens a lot…people from abusive/dysfunctional families find themselves in the same situations when it comes time to start their own family…I’ve seen it happen and it’s just such a shame.

It’s interesting that you are seeking a father figure because you and your dad weren’t that close…but it makes sense. I’m so sorry to hear that he wasn’t a part of your life…that’s heartbreaking. I believe having a father figure in one’s life is very important, and if we don’t have it, then we will seek it out.

Your relationship with your dad may become closer…or it may not. You can also try seeking out a father figure in ways other than relationships….mentors, pastors, doctors, etc. There are many possibilities. I too believe in the longevity of the complex…it’s not ever really going to be resolved.

What is important is that you find acceptance and happiness with yourself and relationships. I need to start accepting myself too…I hope you’ll find a stable, healthy relationship that fills all your needs. :)

cak's avatar

Hi, seekingwolf. :)

Let me just say that if you abnormal for being that close to your father, then make room on the crazy bus for me, too.

My dad died this year and truly, there are days when I wished I died with him. I miss my friend, one of my dearest friends so much I can’t stand life – sometimes. It just hurts. I was his little boy – we joked, even though I am a woman. I did anything to stay by his side, including learning how to take cars apart. I fished, I did yard work, I played sports – just to be like him and to be with him. I thought he was the funniest man on the planet, the smartest and no one else could be like him. I still think those things. Yesterday, I tried to call him to tell him a joke, but damn, he’s not there.

I am in my second marriage. My first marriage, the man couldn’t have been any further from my dad. This marriage, I swear, even my mom says I married my father. He has some of my dad’s mannerisms. Now, my mother has been giving my husband tools and some of my dad’s possessions to my husband and it’s like my dad is here, at times.

With the exception of my husband, (he’s 6 months younger than me), I’ve always found older men attractive. Something more steady in them, strong and secure….yes, like my father.

Sometimes, I think therapist can make things harder on us. Instead of helping us see that certain things are just a part of the person we really are, they want us to pick it apart, analyze it to death and beat it until it’s dead. Then, we kill a part of ourselves, but hey…we are normal! My vote, find a new therapist and understand that you are okay, just as you are – you only need to learn how to be okay and at peace with the person you are.


not a doctor, just a mom

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I believe… it’s a bunch of quackery.

seekingwolf's avatar


Wow, you sound a lot like me….with all the fishing, taking apart cars and stuff. I am a lot like that with my father. I really do idolize him and think he’s the best ever!

I am so so sorry to hear that he died…gosh, just reading that makes me tear up a little because for me, “Dad” and “die” are not to be used in the same sentence ever. I really hope you’re doing okay with it and continue to have lots of support; I really can’t imagine what it’s like. hugs

Your current husband sounds really cool. I think it’s kind of funny/cute when my boyfriend has my dad’s mannerisms. I think it’s comforting in a way…does that make sense?

I will look into changing my therapist as soon as I get to school. There are 2 others I have to choose from so we’ll see! :)

cak's avatar

@seekingwolf – It make complete sense to me. :)

I agree, Dad and Die, should not be in the same sentence. It’s been one of my biggest nightmares, but I try daily to look for the positive and to think of something he did to make me smile or something he taught me. I realize that my attachment to my father was a very strong bond that I cherished and still do. I gained strength from that bond. I wouldn’t trade a single second of the time I had with him for anything in the world. Don’t let some therapist tell you not to spend that time with your father. You are moving forward in your life and you have a strong relationship with your father, it’s okay!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@seekingwolf: If you’re abnormal, I certainly am, too. It seems like I got here a little late to say anything new, but it also seems like you’re feeling a lot better now than when you first asked the question, so YAY! I think you’re the coolest, and I know everything will work out for you. Also: BIG HUG!

seekingwolf's avatar


Better late than never I suppose :) And yes I am feeling better about the issue. MUCH better.

I’m not sure if “abnormal” is a correct word anymore for me. I need to stop using “abnormal” and starting saying “uniquie”. Doesn’t have that same stigma. :)

You’re awesome too! ^^ hug hug

tavj930's avatar

I don’t know about this complex but I can share a little about my relationship with my father. He was my best friend in the whole world and it kind of came between my mom and me. He and mom separated briefly and I wanted to go with him, I was 12, my mom said go ahead and I went and got a change of clothes, obviously, she didn’t let me go but it was a test of my loyalty and she never discussed it with me, but I felt it. Anyway, my dad was just so awesome to me, when he got older I felt that I would die if I lost him. I lost him several years ago and I am okay, although he wasn’t perfect, he had a hand in making me the person I am.

ralfe's avatar

@seekingwolf: To answer your question about the Elektra complex, it was a term coined by Sigmund Freud and is very much misunderstood. What needs to be remembered is that back when Sigmund Freud was around, there were no words for concepts we take for granted, such as the unconscious, repression etc… Freud did not have the jargon or vocabulary to express these complex ideas he was grappling with. And so, he did something quite clever, but which has resulted in decades of confusion. He expressed his ideas in terms of Greek Mythology.

His work on the Elektra complex is quite watery, and he actually admitted to not really understanding women (sound familiar? ;). However, it is essentially the female version of the Oedipal Complex. A lot of people have strong feelings about the oedipal complex, due to the nature of the greek myth. However, Freud’s theory had very little to do with sexual feelings towards the mother. Instead, Freud was trying to explain how our identities are formed in early childhood.

Essentially, with the Oedipal Complex, the mother represents our desires, the father represents things which get in our way. The resolution of the Oedipal Complex is the internalisation of those bariers, which leads to us being able to control our desires, and thus control ourselves in socially acceptable ways. This is what Freud called the UberIch, and what we refer to today as our conscience.

Normally, the Oedipal and Elektra complex is supposed to be resolved around the age of five. However, disturbances in the resolution of this complex has been reported to result in various psychosexual disorders. But I shan’t get into that now.. I hope I managed to clear up your understanding of the Elektra Complex.

seekingwolf's avatar


That’s how I feel….I feel like if my dad were to die, I would just die too :(
I dont think I could deal with it. He’s my best friend.

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