Freud in the Eye of Feminism


Alexandra Ticehurst

Sigmund Freud, born in 1856, is known today as the father of psychoanalysis. Like no other psychologist before him, Freud had begun to interpret the unconscious. The human mind, being immaterial to our technological standards, is extremely hard to draw accurate results from; and though some of his theories are still taught today, the majority of his conclusions were completely incorrect. One of his works was on the gender of a woman, named the Electra Complex. The Electra Complex was the explanation Freud came up with for explaining the societal separation between a man and a woman. The theory states that a woman learns her place by becoming envious of a man’s biology. 

This theory was based on the incorrect misogynistic belief that a man is inherently better than a woman. It allows Freud to self-confirm his “higher place” in society, further continuing the patriarchy cycle, and allowing himself to feel guiltless of the suffering it causes. By today’s standards, his theory is seen as outlandish; but, for the truth to come out, it took many feminists–such as Simone de Beauvoir, Kate Millett, and Germaine Greer–and many contradictory studies, to convince the rest of society of its bizarre implications.  

Additionally, he had used individual case studies instead of generalized research statistics to come to his conclusions; and Freud hadn’t even invested much time into the psychology of women. This is a level of carelessness that allows for detrimental misinformation, which has had haunting implications on the lives of women. 

The Electra Complex was also analyzed by the psychoanalyst Karen Horney, who is most well-known for her disputes of Freud. Although, since she contradicted society’s beliefs, Karen was expelled from her own college. This further shows the hole of denial Freud had placed society in.

While Freud’s works have been greatly condoned for forwarding the development of psychology, with some still used taught today, many more of his theories are incorrect. Perhaps, he is more befitting to lay in the “history” section rather than grouped with science.