The Oedipal complex is foremost among Freud’s most controversial and widely contested ideas. During the Oedipal phase, Freud argued, children develop powerful libidinal strivings for only one parent (the opposite sex), and powerfully rivalrous and jealous feelings towards the other. While boys and girls, in Freud’s view, are innately masculine, femininity for girls is a secondary construction. To successfully enter what Freud called the triangular Oedipal phase, girls must relinquish their innate masculinity by transforming the aim (i.e. active, phallic), the object (i.e. mother) and the erotogenic zone (i.e. clitoris) of the originating masculine sexual drive. Thus, the boy and girl share pre-Oedipal emotional worlds, both attached to the maternal figure and sexually undifferentiated. Here Freud made one of his most controversial claims: the little girl is but a little man waiting to be transformed.
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