15 January 2014

Oedipus complex

He loves a woman, but she loves another. He tells her he loves her, but she leaves him for that another. He pines for her, trying to forget her. One day he finds her again and she loves her the way he did. But this is an illusion, it's not her, it's her daughter who now loves him. He faces conflict, but eventually accepts her. He knows he can't love her the way he loved her mother. But he can give her all the love he has.

This is Lamhe. It was a beautiful love story but the concept didn't go too well with the audience. Probably they found it ahead of its times. Not really, because this concept is as ancient as it can be.

Oedipus married his own mother as per the Greek mythology. They had children and he is worried about his daughters more than his sons. Sons can earn a living, but daughters who will marry them, born out of incest. He is worried as a father and probably as a brother too.

Brahma too had the eye, in fact ten eyes for his own creation Saraswati/ Shatarupa. Wikipedia states that when Brahma created Saraswati he was immediately infatuated and pursued her wherever she went. Saraswati moved in various directions to avoid his gaze but wherever she went, Brahmā developed another head until he had four, one for each direction of the compass. Desperate, Saraswati leaped over him to stay out of his gaze even for a moment. A fifth head, however, appeared above the others. Thus, Brahmā developed five heads. At this moment Shiva appears, cuts off the top head and determined that since Saraswati was Brahma's daughter (being created by him), it was wrong and incestuous of Brahma to become obsessed with her. He directed that there be no proper worship in India for the "unholy" Brahma. Thus, only the other two Gods of the Trimurti Vishnu and Shiva continue to be worshipped, while Brahma is almost totally ignored. Ever since the incident, Brahma has been reciting the four Vedas, one from every mouth, in his attempt at repentance. But scriptures also say Saraswati was his wife and they gave birth to their son Manu together. History or myth. That's why we don't see Brahma temples in our God loving country. The only exception in Pushkar.

The Oedipus complex terminology was coined by Freud basis the Greek myth of Oedipus. Freud also deprecated the term "Electra complex", introduced by Carl Gustav Jung in regard to the Oedipus complex manifested in young girls, another mythological figure, who helped slay her mother. So its a very valid concept well recognised behaviour in our books. Not biology, chemistry, physics, civics but psychology validated by history and literature. Not many people are comfortable to talk about it but its a valid argument. Makes you wonder, doesn't it.

If you reverse the genders in Lamhe i.e. girl loving the father and falling in love with the son. It will be more of a cougar effect than Oedipus. Though the film concept is kind of incest, because if he married the mother that girl could be his daughter. But life doesn't run on ifs. A similar theme emerges at the end of Twilight series. Jacob the God father is hinted to be companion to the grown up Renesmee in future. 
Oedipus Complex
As children most of us would have gone through the phase of being possessive of our fathers as daughters and of mothers as sons, and being jealous of the other parent. I won't call it Oedipus complex but a minor version of the same. Most grow out of it as it's said to occur between the ages of 3 to 5, but some continue for life. Real interesting cases for psychiatrists. Remember Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock Film) it was made on similar syndrome. Shakespeare too expresses this concept in Hamlet but it's more out of revenge for father and rage at her mother that he plans to kill. 

Freud also says In adult life this can lead to a choice of a sexual partner who resembles one's parent. Now that's interesting. This is where the following concepts come from 'Whose your Daddy? ' 'Daddy's little girl' and 'Mama's boy'. (Let's leave Sugar Daddy out if it as it is more of falling for a rich old man)

But makes me ponder do we actually marry the spouse like our parent. Does my husband have any similarity to my father. Now to think right after his own family, he does resemble my father. The way he sweats while eating chilies, the way he can sleep anytime, the way he is obsessed about gadgets and his phone, his personal nail cutter and filer, smoking addict and smoke stained teeth. Other than that nothing much, just physical attributes, nothing behavioural or emotional.

Now the follow up question, do I have any traits similar to his mother. Well he himself has recognised it. While our marriage was being discussed. My father asked my then boy friend now husband, "My daughter is very demanding., will you be able to manage her?" Seriously dad, and here I thought I was your perfect little darling. And are you selling my prospects to the boy or discouraging him to marry me. Thankfully he was in love with me or he would runaway, at this point of conversation. His answer was simple. "Oh no worries uncle, my mother is the same. I am used to handling it." 

Can you beat this. This is my father, my husband and my mother in law. So moral of the story Oedipus is complex but it happens. After all your father is the first man you love as a girl, and mother is the first woman you love as a boy. In fact the father does end up loving his daughter more than his wife and the mother ends up loving her son more than her husband. It's love after all, and love can't be defined. Oedipus is real, not blasphemy or imaginary. It's simply love for your child as much as love for your parent, only it has been discussed in limits which should never be crossed. Every relationship has its limits and all love has conditions. There is no unconditional love and no open relationships.

Oedipus can also be explained with being possessive or idolising a parent. Sometimes the desire to marry someone like your parent can lead to wrong expectations at the beginning of marriage. Whether your parent was good or bad, comparing is wrong. Caring and protecting like my father or nurturing and simple like my mother. These are the qualities we like in our respective parents and becomes a must for our own happily married life.
A lot of times being possessive about a parent emerges out of child's own insecurity. Both the parents don't equally love him/ her or s/he had lost a parent, clinging to the one remaining. That's why a lot of single parents find it difficult to get a match or remarry unless there children accept the prospective person.

Sometimes when one of the parent treats the other bad, the need too protect the vulnerable parent makes the child possessive of that parent. A lot of families with domestic violence or dominating fathers can have sons who are closer and possessive of their mothers. But the reverse scenario is also possible where the same sons can also turn rude and insulting like their fathers towards mothers, sisters, wives and women in general. Human behaviour is complex and Oedipus is just one part of it.

Lot of animals live incestuous lives. Read here. Science says incest leads to poor quality prodigy, with increased risk of congenital disorders, death and disability at least in part due to genetic diseases caused by the inbreeding. But lots of cultures follow it in the name of traditions or purely financial reasons. Preserving the family blood and keeping the money in the family precisely.

Oedipus complex has been glamorised, romanticised, critiqued and trashed in the media thru books and films many a times. Here are some books and films you can read or see on the subject:
Lamhe (Hindi film)
Psycho (Film)
Game of Thrones (TV Show)
My Name is Red
My Oedipus Complex
Graduate (Film)
Lolita (Film)
Maqbool (Film) 


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