Sunday, November 8, 2015


Hey everybody! We recently covered Sigmund Freud in Critical Theory and we touched on some of the weird, traditional concepts like penis envy, the castration complex, and of course the Oedipus complex.

The "Oedipus complex" is inspired by the play Oedipus Rex by Greek playwright Sophocles. The main character murders his father, has sex with his mother, and then proceeds to gouge his eyes out and go blind.

Worst day ever?

As the hilarious comedian/singer-songwriter Bo Burnham says in one of his songs:

"Gay dads blow pops, another sucker,
Oedipus was the first motherfucker"

Freud named his concept after Oedipus because he embodies the violent tension between child and same sex parent and the sexual tension between child and opposite sex parent.

Being the lover of popular culture (TV in this case) that I am, I couldn't help but think of a really awesome example of the Oedipus complex from American Horror Story. None other than Dr. Oliver Thredson from the second season, Asylum.

Played by Zachary Quinto, Thredson epitomizes the Oedipus complex. He is, quite literally, a living testament to Freud's theory. Which is pretty damn ironic considering the fact that Thredson is a psychiatrist.

Disclaimer: I am not a psychoanalyst, therefore my views on Thredson are merely speculation and open to interpretation and criticism. My professor told us we needed to say this before we went around saying crazy stuff about people, fictional or not.

Now Thredson's version of the complex is pretty interesting, considering the fact that his mother was absent from his life from a young age and his father's whereabouts are questionable. Because his mother was absent and therefore neither physically or emotionally present, his desperate need for motherly love morphed into something sinister and also sexual. The Oedipus complex is usually resolved in children when they cease their harboring of negative feelings towards their same sex parent, but clearly Thredson's absent father makes that resolution quite difficult.

Thredson first discovered his sexual feelings towards motherly figures when he was in medical school, more specifically in his anatomy class. The cadaver that the class examines, and Thredson later on is alone with, is a thirty three year old woman, the exact age of Thredson's mother when she abandoned him. In his deluded mind, Thredson believes that the cadaver is his mother.

viewer discretion advised: if rape scenes make you uncomfortable, i would say skip the video

At one point in the season, Thredson kidnaps Lana Winters from the asylum. Lana is a reporter who visits the asylum with the intention of exposing the horrors that occur there, however she herself ends up experiencing those horrors for herself. Thredson tricks Lana into thinking that he is helping her escape the monstrous asylum but little does she know that the home of her accomplice holds much more terrifying secrets.

As the video shows, Thredson claims that Lana is "the one", the motherly figure that he has searched for his entire life. He breastfeeds from Lana against her will and proceeds to rape her while she is in a catatonic state.

Clearly this an extreme case of the Oedipus complex. According to Freud, the Oedipus complex is usually resolved with minimal internal conflict and life goes on without a hitch. The origin of Thredson's neuroses is almost definitely rooted in his unresolved Oedipus complex, however that's not to say that his instability isn't influenced by psychopathy.

I suppose it's only fitting, if not ironic, that he went on to become someone who makes a living telling other people everything that is wrong with them.

until next time, 

1 comment:

  1. I wish I knew this show... but I bet my tweeps do... sending this one around!!


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