Father complex

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The expression father complex was used by Sigmund Freud in the period 1910-1913 to designate feelings of guilt and of castration anxiety relating to the father, and therefore to the Oedipus complex.

The expression first appears in the article "The Future Prospects of Psycho-Analytic Therapy" (1910d), when Freud wrote that "in male patients the most important resistances in the treatment seem to be derived from the father complex and to express themselves in fear of the father, in defiance of the father and in disbelief of the father" (p. 144).

He attributed specifically to Carl Gustav Jung the coinage of the term complex, and in the same year he used it in developing the expression "Oedipus complex," which was at this time nearly synonymous with "father complex."

The expression was hardly ever used by Freud again, except in Totem and Taboo (1912-13a), where it took on a more specific meaning.

Here, in essence, it referred to the guilt and castration anxiety experienced by the son in the "primitive horde" after the murder of the father, which in turn led to the repression of incestuous wishes toward the mother.

Transmitted from generation to generation, this complex explains the permanence and universality of the Oedipus complex.

The expression father complex has almost entirely disappeared from usage in contemporary psychoanalysis.