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#461248 - 02/21/14 11:17 PM the Oedipal elephant in the room
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 340
Loc: NY
As the victim of covert incest with my mother, I find myself in the position of trying to be understood and yet coming up against the argument that mother-son sexual dynamics are as old as time and therefore not such a big deal. This argument is further buttressed by Freudís theory of the Oedipus complex, based on the ancient Greek legend.

Freudís theories were the basis for a lot of psychology in the last century. Although a lot of other perspectives have come into play, his basic ideas are still honored. I wonder if anyone on this forum could comment a little on how going beyond his basic understanding of sexual dynamics has been helpful in resolving family problems. It would help me gain a little more ground on my recovery.

Thanks very much,

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#461687 - 02/28/14 01:25 AM Re: the Oedipal elephant in the room [Re: focusedbody]
mmfan Offline


Registered: 09/25/11
Posts: 114
Well, lots of things are "old as time," murder, torture, genocide, that doesn't make them acceptable, normal, or less of a big deal.
Incest/CSA are old as time as well, sadly. This doesn't make them any less horrific or damaging.

My friend is a survivor of mother-son incest, and he thinks Freud's theories are crap. I don't know much about Freud myself but I am a survivor of covert mother-daughter incest (among other things), and I can say that there is nothing normal about a sexual vibe between parent and child, it is extremely damaging, and it most certainly IS a big deal.
My mother was the single most damaging thing that ever happened to me.
I'm pretty sure my friend can say the same. His ability to relate to women and humans in general, his ability to trust and form healthy attachments, his confidence and sense of self, his sexuality and ability to be intimate, all were profoundly affected.

You didn't say who is giving you this "argument" that it's not a big deal...but whoever they are, they are not helpful to your healing.

If you're asking, "Is this worth exploring in more depth?" then my answer is YES, with a good therapist. I've spent hours talking about my mother, and it has helped, has struck the core of my issues like nothing else. I came to realize that for me the sexual stuff was just one facet of a very complex and screwed up dynammic.
My therapist uses a lot of techniques, but mainly psychodynamic and CBT. Also the fact that she is a woman my mother's age, is challenging. I started with a male therapist who was excellent, but he recommended I seek a female therapist specifically to confront my issues with women.

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#461770 - 02/28/14 09:28 PM Re: the Oedipal elephant in the room [Re: focusedbody]
Esposa Offline
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MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/19/11
Posts: 694
Loc: NJ
I have read some things that try to play down that stuff - but something major is required in that whole theory - and that is a cultural and societal acceptance of it - and I just can't get there mentally.

Mother-son dynamics are interesting in general, but when they go astray and become abusive, the damage done is enormous. PROFOUND is a good word.

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#461842 - 03/01/14 10:04 PM Re: the Oedipal elephant in the room [Re: focusedbody]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 340
Loc: NY
Esposa and mmfan, thanks very much for your responses.

I don't think anyone has come out and actually said "not a big deal". What I think happens is that people try to rationalize their feelings with theories instead of using them to explore and understand their feelings. Perhaps it sounds like a fine line, but I think I feel less confused around people who are willing to fully own the unpleasant as well as the pleasant.

In my case, for instance, my mother is acknowledging there may have been "Oedipal" influences in our relationship. What's difficult to explore about it is not so much how I feel about her, but the fact that to include my father in the picture can seem so threatening.

My father's open relationship with her and his absence in my childhood produced in me a confusion where I might end up in a kind of reverse of the Oedipus complex--trying to kill my mother and sleep with my father.

Freud's assumption that men want to kill their fathers can also conceal the fact that a lot of men need and want to be closer to their fathers and other men. This kind of revision of male instinct seems like it could easily develop into a confusing picture of sexual dynamics between men, instead of clarifying them.

Thanks very much for giving my the opportunity to ask and be responded to. As I begin to feel more integrated, it means a lot to me to be able to articulate this stuff and have a sense that I am not alone or out of touch with reality.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#461883 - 03/02/14 02:20 PM Re: the Oedipal elephant in the room [Re: focusedbody]
mmfan Offline


Registered: 09/25/11
Posts: 114
Originally Posted By: focusedbody
my mother is acknowledging there may have been "Oedipal" influences in our relationship.


Ah, Ok, I'm understanding more now.

It sounds like interacting with your mother now could be confusing....not the least beacuse she is obliquely aknowledging "something", but at the same time, this whole "Oedipal thing" seems like a way of perhaps minimalizing/normalizing it.

The bottom line is that regardless of what anyone might imply, the effects on you are real. Your mother in particular has a vested interest in downplaying it, and isn't a reliable source of validation, but I'm sure you already knew that.

I can also relate to feeling confused about your dad. I know that working through my mother incest stuff, also brought up confusing feelings about my father. There was a triangle there, so I had to analyze her relationship with him, and his relationship with me, as well. It didn't occur in a vaccuum.

It's confusing because children idolize their parents and have innate needs for closeness, and can even develop "crush" like feelings on their parent(s), that are totally normal. (I think conventionally this is supposedly on the opposite-sex parent, but thats a heterocentric view, IMO, I think it can occur between boys and their fathers, or girls on their mothers, irrespective of the child's innate sexual orientation.)

So sorting out those normal needs, vs abnormally sexualized feelings, is complicated.
Its left me confused about relationships with men as well, and I find myself seeking father figures and then rapidly sexualizing the relationships in my mind...even though none of my abuse (as far as I recall) directly involved my father, and his overall role in my life was fairly minor (mostly absentee).

I guess this is a longwinded way of suggesting that it may be equally important to explore your feelings toward your father, despite (or because of?!) your intense discomfort.
Sometimes the things that make us most uncomfortable, are the things that most need to be confronted.

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#462498 - 03/13/14 05:53 AM Re: the Oedipal elephant in the room [Re: focusedbody]
focusedbody Offline


Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 340
Loc: NY
Mmfan:

Many of the things you mention resonate with what I have been through and what I reflect on.

What is particularly difficult to do is sort out the normal needs. It seems like an never ending process. However, it's also possible that as I grew up, I was aware that on some level, normal needs were not being addressed. Trying to stay in touch with something that tender can be trying. The end result seems to be a lot of confusion, as you describe.

As far as the triangle goes, I feel so familiar with being in a triangle with my parents that I can't imagine anything else in my life. Or should I say, I when I do imagine something simpler, less complicated, my body will only go so far. At some point old protective instincts take over and I look to cope.

In response to the triangle, I think that over the years, I have taken the position of some kind of righteous victim of one thing or another. I make someone an enemy as quickly as possible in order to avoid feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed, angry, and well probably a few other things, including vulnerable.

Underneath all of this seems to be one thing: fear. I'm not completely sure what the fear is of. It may be more than one thing, but what is more interesting is the fact that I won't own it completely. Instead I tend to dance around it, even enjoy how strong it is. But living any closer to it tends to make me feel diminished.

This is probably some old childhood fantasy pattern, a way of creating another world to live in and not confronting, as you state.

Thanks for your feedback. It's good to take a slightly bigger look around at what has been a chronic state of difficulty for too long.

FB
_________________________
Lose the drama; life is a poem.

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#462507 - 03/13/14 09:18 AM Re: the Oedipal elephant in the room [Re: focusedbody]
SoniaDx Offline


Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 21
My husband didn't have a covert incestual relationship with his mom (in the contemporary sense) however his T blamed his mother's emotional inconsistency as the direct cause of a later inappropriate sexual relationship with an older woman as a young teen. His T said that the relationship he had with his mother was harmful during a critical time in his development and setup all of his trust issues and behavior/reactions with women from that point on.

If my husband can be so profoundly affected by his mother then I can only imagine the extent of harm a covert sexualized mother-child relationship could cause. Freud's theories do form the basis of a lot of modern psychology but we now know more and have better perspectives. And in the case of any form of incest it is definitely a HUGE deal.


Edited by SoniaDx (03/13/14 09:19 AM)

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