ERIC Number: ED332137
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1991-May
Reference Count: N/A
The Oedipal Complex and Child Sexual Abuse Research: A Re-examination of Freud's Hypothesis.
Kendall-Tackett, Kathleen A.
In 1896, Sigmund Freud stated that early childhood seduction caused hysteria in his female patients. He later recanted his original finding and claimed that the reports of abuse he heard from his patients were not descriptions of real events, but his patients' expressions of unconscious childhood wishes. The theory of the Oedipal complex gave practitioners a reason for why they were hearing about seduction in childhood from their patients, and supported these practitioners in the belief that sexual abuse was a rare phenomenon. To date, research on child sexual abuse and children's knowledge of sexuality fails to support the Oedipal theory. The theory of the Oedipal complex, although criticized by many authors, continues to exert an influence on the field. It seems as though some have accepted this theory as "truth" and have not examined whether it is consistent with the growing body of knowledge. Given all of this, it must be seriously questioned whether this theory is useful for child abuse professionals. It must be especially questioned whether it is helpful in making forensic judgments, understanding the causes, or treating victims of child sexual abuse. If it is not, it is time to explicitly say so and move toward developing theories grounded in data and scientific facts. (ABL)
Publication Type: Reports - General; Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Mental Health (DHHS), Bethesda, MD.
Authoring Institution: New Hampshire Univ., Durham. Family Research Lab.