The Material and Sources of Dreams- Sigmund Freud

These are my notes I prepared for myself during my studies. I just tried to summarize and make it easier to understand. The parts cited directly from the text are italicized and remarked with quotation mark.

From The Interpretation of Dreams¹
Chapter V. The Material and Sources of Dreams

“The chief part in the mental lives of all children who later become psychoneourotics is played by their parents. Being in love with the one parent and hating the other are among the essential constituents of the stock of psychical impulses which is formed at that time and which is of such importance in determining the syptoms of the later neurosis.”

In order to support this argument Freud gives an example from a legend that has come down to us from classical antiquity: The legend of King Oedipus.

“The Oedipus Complex is a tragedy of destiny. What makes it tragic is the contrast between the supreme will of the gods and the vain attempts of mankind to escape his destiny.  Submission to divine will and realization of his own impotence is the lesson that spectator is expected to learn from the tragedy. Modern dramatists have tried to achieve a similar effect of Oedipus Complex, but later tragedies of destiny have failed in their effect.”

“Oedipus Rex has the same effect on modern audience as it has on the contemporary Greek one. This effect has its root in the particular nature of the material on which that contrast is exemplified.”

According to Freud, there must be something that enables us to recognize the compelling destiny of Oedipus. And he paraphrases what he means by saying this:

“His destiny moves us only because it might have been ours, and because the oracle laid the same curse upon us before our birth as upon him. It is the fate of all of us, perhaps, to direct our first sexual impulse towards our mother and our first hatred and our first murderous wish against our father.”

[1] Translated by James Strachey.