What do daughters want? An exploration of the female Oedipus complex and the role of the father during the Oedipal stage of development from the perspectives of psychodynamic developmental theory and revisionist-feminist psychodynamic theory

Hilary Blesh Michaud (1996)

This theoretical study into the father and daughter relationship at the time of the Oedipal stage asks the question: What does the daughter want from her father at the time of the Oedipal stage in order to develop her mature ability to work and to love? The literature studied consists of Freud's relevant essays on psychosexual development and the female Oedipus complex, followed by a representative selection of psychodynamic developmental theorists and revisionist-feminist theorists. "Psychodynamic developmental theorists" are defined as the realm of psychodynamically oriented theorists who test and modify their theory by direct observation of children. "Revisionist-feminist theorists" are defined as a realm of psychodynamically oriented theorists who compare their clinical observations with Freud's theory, based in their own experience as women working with women and girls. These theories are compared, and useful revisionist themes in both realms are examined. These themes are the importance of gender sensitive terminology, the use of parallel developmental tracks for the two sexes, the dread of the feminine as it affects fathers and daughters, and a questioning of present assumptions concerning infantile sexuality. The girl's Oedipus complex is re-examined and the revised formulation is illustrated by case vignettes. The critical importance of the father as both a normative and a reparative force in his daughter's Oedipal stage development is confirmed both through the literature studied and the clinical examination of the cases presented. In conclusion, further theoretical research into the issues raised by this study and concerns about the training of therapists and the role of psychologists as educators to families are outlines.