The Oedipus complex is the actual nucleus of neuroses… what remains of the complex in the unconscious represents the disposition to later development of neurosis in the adult.
Introduction: King Bush
President George W. Bush has been called the next Hitler, el Diablo, King Bush, Beelzebub, a warmonger, a liar, a criminal, a murderer, a stealer of rights, a dictator, an imperialist, a colonialist, an oppressor, a puppet of more sinister forces, greedy, satanic, stupid, dumb, moronic, ignorant, fundamentalist, a terrorist and a surfeit of other aspersions. There have been movies and books and songs and poems and speeches and blogs which called for his assassination and his indictment for war crimes. He was even connected and insidiously made to appear somehow complicit with the September 11th attacks (e.g. see documentaries Fahrenheit 9/11, Loose Change, etcetera.). And yet, there was not, and still is yet to be, a single shred of non-specious evidence to suggest he is any, or has committed any of these felonies; in fact, much to the contrary, most good evidence suggests he is a man who stands by his decisions, and those decisions are based on magnanimous considerations as well as advice from a variety of well-informed sources (See any of Bob Woodward’s books on the Presidency). Whether one agrees with his policies or not is besides the point, it seems quite clear he is not “evil.” His so-called “fascist dictatorship,” as many in this country labeled his “cabal,” has been tempered at nearly every turn by the other branches of government. What’s more is that he “allows” the media to destroy and impugn his character while he follows, for instance, even if he would prefer not to, the Supreme Court’s ruling on how to treat and try prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Cuba – something else authentic dictators would not tolerate.
So what accounts for this “Bush Derangement Syndrome” as some have labeled it? What is the impetus for this loathing of an apparently decent man? Some have postulated it is because his motives seem unclear, or it seems that he is more interested settling old scores (“getting Saddam back for insulting his father’) than he is concerned with the welfare of the country. Others claim that 9/11 was an ‘inside job’ or that he is a right-wing theocrat placed in power to spread some version of fundamentalist Christianity, reigniting a crusade. But none of these accusations were based on facts or evidence, just tenuous, paranoid correlations. In any land of free speech, there is room for honest dissent, and there is the absolute need to question those in power, but there are no real justifications for this intense hatred.* In fact, there is no real rationalization. Indeed, there must be something deeper, less visible, more primitive which accounts for the abhorrence, and even fear, of what seems to be a decent if flawed leader. That something, I think, if you give these old, passé psychanalytical ideas any credence at all, is an unresolved Oedipal Complex.
*Note: I wrote this during the Bush administration, but clearly it applies to other presidents, and the way of thinking I will describe is not directed to one political side or another – any extremist can suffer from Americus Rex complex.
Sophocles and Freud
In Sophocles play Oedipus Rex, King Lauis, after hearing of a prophecy that his son would kill him and wed his wife, arranges for his new born son to be killed via exposure in order to prevent this accursed future. However, the bambino is spared by a sheepherder who feels empathy for the child, and secretly taken to be raised by another royal family. The baby is given the name Oedipus. The baby Oedipus eventually grows up into a strong, able adult.
Sometime later, while traveling on a roadway, Oedipus happens into an argument with a man who would not let him pass in the road for Oedipus was of lower stature. In a fit of rage, Oedipus kills him. That man turns out to be his father King Lauis; thus fulfilling one part of the prophecy. Later, Oedipus saves the city of Thebes by solving the riddle of the Sphinx who has been casting a plague on the Thebians. Upon solving the riddle, the Sphinx kills herself and Thebes is released from the pestilence. As recompense for his heroism, the recently widowed queen of Thebes weds Oedipus. The queen is his mother Jacosta, and the once improbable prophecy is completely fulfilled. In the end, after finding out how fate has played them, Oedipus blinds himself with Jacosta’s broachers and Jocosta hangs herself.
Roughly, two and a half millennium after Sophocles wrote this drama, Sigmund Freud, in one of those tremendously impactful moments in human thought, realized that this play of Sophocles may not merely be artistic fantasy, but an unconscious expression of a universal psychological fact: the wish of the child to do away with the Father and secure the Mother’s love all for himself.
Denigration and Murder – Part I
To lay persons, this theory sounds absurd – most people love their mothers and their fathers very much, and even those who are not terribly fond of their parents, have no intention, whim, desire, or inkling of harming them. But remember, Freud dealt with our unconscious, that is, the reservoir of our hidden impulses. These impulses arise in various, not so obvious ways.
Consider that the first object which a child loves and loathes is one in the same: the Mother figure. When the Mother gives the child love or meets some desire she is seen, to put it plainly, as the Good Mother. When the Mother denies the child love or some desire, in the child’s mind, she becomes the Bad Mother. This dualistic split between good and bad creates a certain crisis in the infant’s mind, for it seems that there is the desire for total goodness, for some Platonic perfection and only the Good Mother fits this archetype. (Even now, most people become upset if someone insults their mother (assuming they had a good relationship wit her)?) The negative feelings which arise when the child is denied by the Mother threaten that perfection (a perfectly good being should only make one feel good, right?), and therefore these negative feelings towards the Mother must be jettisoned. If the child does not jettison them then (1) the perfect Mother becomes defiled, or (2) the child, via holding on and internalizing the negativity, feels himself defiled, and thereby undeserving of Mother’s love. So, in a sort of panic, like taking trash out of the main floors of the house, but not putting out for the garbage collector but instead stuffing it all into the basement so the house can have the appearance of cleanliness, all negative feelings are projected onto a convenient target: in the case of the male child it is the Father figure.
The Father figure is a most felicitous object for projecting negative feelings upon, for the child by nature is immediately, and to the child’s mind, solely, cared for by the Mother. The Father seems sneaky as well as interfering. Traditionally, the Father is in and out of the picture which makes the child’s unconscious mind wonder about his motives, and when he is there, the Mother shows him love also. The child is not inclined to share; however, since the child cannot physically defeat the Father, that is, vanquish him to secure the Mother’s love as his alone, the child feels extremely vulnerable and at the mercy of the Father’s whims. (The theory is aiming at some psychic dynamic more abstract I believe than the traditional father and mother, as we’ll see soon).
If the child could communicate, assuming he was sophisticated enough to sense his own urges, he would probably tell his Mother how awful Father is as a person. He would perhaps tell everyone he came into contact with the same story, just as people seem to enjoy nothing better than to talk the ear off of anyone who will listen to how they have been slighted. The child would make himself seem the righteous agent, and the Father, would be depicted as fundamentally flawed, and perhaps, evil. Indeed, since he cannot defeat the Father physically, the child can only mentally knock him down a notch. And since, the child cannot not knock him down a notch by publicly disparaging him, given the child’s inchoate intellect and weaker language set, he does so in his own mind. It is all unconscious of course, and happens automatically, by attributing all that is “bad” in the Mother, and likewise in himself, to the Father, he feels better about his situation. The child, you see, feels he must be superior to the Father so as to give himself a sense a certainty that Mother only loves him. Thus, by projecting negatives onto the Father, the child, in his mind, rises by derogation.
But this hatred and jealousy and suspiciousness of the Father does not merely end in the projection of negatives onto him. The child does not merely think poorly of the Father and divinely of the Mother. The basic problem still exists – the Mother is sharing her love. Thus, the negativity within the child goes farther, deeper, and darker. Freud explained that the anger builds, the resentment too, and soon, the need to ‘control’ the uncontrollable, results in a massive urge in the tiny body of the child to kill the Father! After all, what else can the child do to make sure that the Father is no longer a threat to his dominion and his maternal bounty?
But of course, the small infant cannot kill off the Father, for he, again, is obviously not powerful enough. So in place of reality, the infant dreams and daydreams of killing or injuring the father, and later in life, the adult dreams of the Father being, often by accident, killed or injured (Nunberg, 1955). Indeed, as man’s conscience (superego) forms, even his dreams and fantasies start to become censored by the morality of society, and the Father is not killed outright in dreams but crippled or maimed in some way. Along with dreams and daydreams, the urge to kill appears in one’s putative jokes, and slips of the tongue (parapraxes).
In the child’s violent dreams and daydreams, the destructive urge in his mind has been fulfilled, even if not in reality. This seems to release some of the pressure that was building within – to maintain sanity one must release the hydraulic pressure of this death wish. Via denigration, that is, seeing the Father as wicked, the child engages and releases in piecemeal his murderous instinct; it could be called the “killing him softly” version of Oedipal rage. Again, as one matures, the conscious mind, because of an inner conscience, reframes from actually picturing the Father hurt or injured for that becomes taboo; instead, only when that inner conscience is made lax in the dream-world and absent mindedness do the vestiges of the primordial rage appear in dream symbols (Freud, 1900).
This passive aggression toward the Father figure, if not resolved, then continues to affect and color one’s view of power/authority (more on this soon) throughout one’s life. Verily, adults like young children in the Oedipus Stage of psychosexual development (3 to 5 years of age), may dream of killing their Father, or they may dream them sick or kidnapped or missing. They may see him as shrunken or unable to perform certain activities. They may take secret joy in his mishaps, or discover an inner rage at his shortcomings. Anytime, the Father is in some way crippled, immobilized or weakened in our mind’s eye, without a legitimate justification in reality to do so, it is the Oedipus Complex, our desire to be king and to take the queen, rearing its head.
And even though psychologically crude, the solutions of (1) projection of bad feelings onto the Father to denigrate him and kill him softly and (2) dreaming, wishing, joking and unconsciously wishing violence and murder and accident unto the Father do seemingly accomplish the goal of the child. In the child’s mind, the world is now a very simple place: there exist no gradations of good and bad, noble and ignoble – there is the “good me” and the Good, Noble Mother versus the Bad, Ignoble Father. This ethos gives the neoteric mind a respite from the difficult work of ratiocination and discernment. Indeed, with this ethos there is actually no need to think, or compare and contrast anything. In such a mentality everything can be based on primitive instinct – that which seems like the self or the Mother is good, and that which seems like the Father is bad. Like the animal, the world is split into the two camps of harmful and helpful. Like Adam and Eve in the Old Testament, the infant has eaten from the tree of good and evil. Like Marx, the world is now dualistic and easy to manage.
But obviously the world is not so simple. And if one does not mature such a simplistic way of looking at the world, leads to irrational stereotypes and improper categorizations in adulthood. These in turn lead to an utterly distorted view of power structure and one’s role and relation to reality. The Oedipus Complex, as Freud suggested in the display quote, is the source of all irrationality, or what used to be called neurosis.
Expanding the Tripartite Theory: Mom, Dad, Americus Rex
Freud’s theory was initially limited to only the biological Mother and Father, but later psychoanalysts began to expand his theory to all Maternal and Paternal figures in general (Price and Crapo, 2002; Jung, 1980). Freud himself wrote books on religion and civilization which dealt with God as a Father-figure (Freud, 1989). It seems that instead of sexuality, as Freud originally posited, the complex revolves more around child who wants power for himself, and conversely, those who make the child feel a sense of powerlessness (Price and Crapo, 2002). Thus, any Maternal figure who provides unconditional love seemingly confers power to the child, and conversely, any Paternal figure who provides protection ostensibly usurps that power. (The man who can protect you can also destroy you). Any Maternal figure that provides equality or hefty praise gives the child power, and any Paternal that provides law and criticism takes power away. (The man who can create justice can also imprison).
The most well-known evidence for the expansion of the “biological theory” to the “power theory” of the Oedipus Complex entails research which found that on remote islands in which children were raised not by the father, but by their mother and their maternal uncle (i.e. avuncular societies), showed the same animosity towards the uncle as other children do towards the father (Price and Crapo, 2002). Dreams of the uncle dying or being injured occurred even though the ‘sexual threat’ of the father was not present (i.e. the mother was not going to sleep with her brother for incest is a taboo in even the most primitive societies as Freud pointed out in Totem and Taboo, 1911). It is vitally important to note that many modern psychoanalysts imply that any authority figure, any power figure, can trigger the Oedipal Complex (Price and Crapo, 2002). Indeed, to truly appreciate the Oedipus Complex, it seems that one would be wise to look beyond one’s own family unit, and notice man’s relationship to the symbols of secular power.
If we take everything we know about the elements and dynamics of the Oedipal Complex we can begin to piece together the reasons many Americans hated, and continue to hate, the 43rd President of the United States, or any decent leader.
Freud’s theory is a tripartite theory: we need a child, a Mother and a Father. The child in this case is a portion of the American public. We can call that portion Americus Rex. Each person in this group suffers to a greater or lesser degree from an unresolved Oedipus Complex, the evidence for, and the prevalence of this complex, will be discussed later. For now, the most important concept to realize is that Americus Rex hates and wants to do away with the ultimate secular Father figure: President George W. Bush and all the power the office represents. The Mother to George Bush’s Father is not a person, but rather an Aggregation of American Ideals, much as our biological Mother’s represent abstract concepts of love and provision. (The President should be looked at as the office, and not so much the person in power. When the office is noble and people hate the office still, this seems to be because of this complex. More specifically, when the government or nation is good and hated, that too can be considered part of an Oedipal complex.)
Concerning the Mother more specifically, consider that every American citizen has been raised by what we can call, “Mother America.” Mother America has inculcated us with her Ideals of freedom, privacy, security, opportunity, equality, abundance, and independence. From our earliest cognizant days in this country, Mother America has said to us, “Pledge allegiance to this noble flag, this noble constitution, this land of the free and home of the brave. I am the land of opportunity and I will love you no matter what are or do. You are my child. God (or whatever you worship) loved you so much he assented to your being born to me and to nurse at my breast.” Mother America seems to give us power, taking nothing for herself.
At some level, mostly unconsciously, we all feel and welcome that Motherly unconditional love and hope for our success that is America’s Ideals. If we introspect even deeper, there is a certain yen for her. It is not sexual concupiscence but merely the urging for intimate proximity and merging with her Ideals that is our desire. We see again how the child, in this case Americus Rex, wants all the love of the Mother to himself. He wants her pure, unsullied, and unfiltered – meshing into his being and his being into hers. It seems that to avoid the feeling or labeling of “incest”, Americus Rex actually refrains from openly promoting his love for this country. He expresses his love for her not with a billet-doux for Her, but instead, tries to demonstrate his love for Her by issuing diatribes against her spouse – the President (and all his men and women) or government in general.* Of course, he does not hold Mother America responsible for being wed to the President, for she did not chose him; he was forced upon her like an arranged marriage.
*Note: There are clearly times when government is evil and deserves to be hated – the history books are chockablock with examples. But it is always quite startling how much hatred can arise for a relatively good government, a relatively well-functioning or ordinary government.
Denigration and Murder – Part II
So how does Americus Rex handle the ultimate Father-figure at this time in America’s history? How do they respond, in this particular case, to President George Bush? Simple – the same way that the infant handles its rage towards its Father-figure: First, with projection and denigration of the figure to “kill him softly”, and second, with outright murderous intent and wishes for his injury (this occurs as conscience is destroyed by a feeling of righteous anger). Let us examine the ways in which the latter of these urges occur in Americus Rex, and then we shall return to the former.
The Murder of President Bush
Ironically, less active or inept Presidents are often not hated as much active Presidents. This may be because a ham-fisted Father is not seen as much of a threat; then again, hysterical rage can be felt for any leader or government. History supports this thesis as people usually respond favorably to presidents who do not use their “power,” that is to say, peace-time presidents. If a president does not have to show his power, then the ‘children’ under him are not as threatened. Indeed, he may still be hated by some with extremely unresolved complexes (such people tend to overlap with hatred for each and every President) – in modern American the number of those people are growing on the left and the right, but those with relatively resolved complexes are in no danger of a reversion to a more primitive state. – they see a good leader/government for what it is – good or ordinary and do not hate it. Also, in peace-time, presidents sound more “motherly” than “fatherly” – more nanny state than police state.*
*In other videos, I will talk about a different type of complex that hates the mother and wishes to marry the father – who likes the strength of the state and hates the feminine qualities of the nation.
Americus Rex loathed President Bush because he was a wartime president and further, his power over them seemed palpable and far-reaching compared to any President in their recent memories. They felt that he was stealing (e.g. the 2000 Election) and keeping Mother America all to himself as well as exerting his power for the sake of exerting it. For instance, Americus Rex accused the symbolic Father of weakening the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights, especially right to privacy via the wiretaps, FISA, the Patriot Act, extraordinary renditions, etcetera.. They said that he had been reckless and ruined Mother America’s image and ability to produce (i.e. economy). These beliefs lead, in some, to unfiltered ire – as could be seen on any anti-War protesters’ face. Bulging eyes, popping veins, foaming mouth, cringed hands, arched back, etcetera.. The state of mind is one we all are familiar with in this age; indeed, it is also the state we see in movies all the time – precisely before someone goes into a fit of murderous rampage.
And not surprisingly, there were numerous ways that the American Rex tried to “kill off” the President. Before giving examples, it is well to note that the homicidal rage of the disorder appears because the Oedipus Complex reacts to the supposed stultification of the libido drive, and libido is a sex drive, and the sex drive is a creation instinct, and the creation instinct is a life instinct, and a life instinct is survival instinct. Therefore, to a naïve mind destroying the President is about their personal survival – both physical and social survival. (Merely talk to someone who loathes Bush and one will quickly find how seriously they take the issue of his needing to go.) Survival instincts come down to a “you or me” scenario – it is an existential situation. An animal must flee or fight to stay alive. When there is nowhere to run, (though some celebrities promised to move out of the United States if George Bush won the 2004 election) most humans choose to kill.
Some of Americus Rex (and their brother Europus Rex) seemed to literally want to kill the President (and his close “Fatherly” associates which also represent the symbolic father power): Observe the Oedipal fantasy in the Death of a President movie, the novella “Checkpoint” by Nicholson Baker, the hoping that a terrorist attack was successful in its attempt to kill Vice President Dick Cheney as comedian Bill Maher said, or actress Kirstin Dunst’s straightforward “joke” when asked when what she would do if she were asked if she could be Spiderman for one day: “I would kill President Bush.” In the London Guardian, Charlie Brooker wrote in 2004: “On Nov. 2, the entire civilized world will be praying, praying Bush loses. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. – where are you now that we need you?” The rock band, Rage Against the Machine belted out these lyrics: “And this current administration is no exception. They should be hung, and tried, and shot.” Governor Steve Beshear said, “When I mention that Democrats are problem solvers, I can think of only one Republican who can be a problem solver — that is Vice President Dick Cheney if he would just take George on a hunting trip.” A man created a video game called “The Night of Bush Capturing: A Virtual Jihadi” in which the goal is to kill the President. Faux stamps are made with guns pointed at Bush’s head. In 2006, New York’s comptroller said that Senator Charles Schumer would “put a bullet between the president’s eyes if he could get away with it.” Rhandi Roads, a liberal talk show host, explained that Bush should be treated like Fredo in the Godfather and “take him out fishing and phuw” – she then made a gunshot noise. Comedian Craig Kilborn had a “Snipers Wanted” caption placed under a photo of Bush on his talk show. John Kerry, when commenting on Bill Maher’s “suggestion” that he could “kill two birds at once” by going to New Hampshire to get his wife a gift and stumping while there, replied, “Or I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone.” Several college professors made headlines for their violent anti-Bush tirades (this writer experienced some first hand in his undergraduate study). This farrago of death-wishes could go on and on.
There is a sort of sadist quality that is concomitant with this urge to kill that no one wants to admit to. There is an inner exhilaration about the kill. Mobs feed upon this exhilaration and confirm it. Of course, most of those mentioned above, one reckons, do not consciously want to kill the Father, but the mere idea of Father being hurt engenders a certain glee; hence, the so-called jokes. It has become a sport or game, as fun as football or checkers, to hate the President. To those with maturity however, from left and right, they are sickened by such displays.
The Denigration of President Bush
Of course, other Bush haters were not so bold as those mentioned above, and indeed, those with less “id” (less instinct to kill) and more of a tendency towards repression or suppression (a stricter super ego), wanted to off the President more subtly by denigrating him. Denigration is related to the “kill instinct”; and in fact, it is actually more useful in “killing the President” (especially in the age of YouTube) because again, actually killing the President is highly unlikely to be possible, and further, most who say they would kill the President are stopped by their inner conscience (again, the super ego). Americus Rex, like the child, is physically powerless to slaughter, but unlike the child, they now have the power of intellect and language. Denigration is thus the ego’s compromise (i.e. the ego utilizes the reality principle or what you can get away with) between the id and superego, for one can do away with the Father without killing him. One can satisfy the murderous impulses of the id along with obeying, closely enough anyway, the rules of the superego.
To adduce, some of Americus Rex wanted to send the President away to prison for “war crimes” – some still do, and actually work in the Congress. Out of their obsession over the President, they aimed to discredit him by calling the War on Terror a “nuisance” and a “bumper sticker war.” They made him appear ignorant by saying the War on Terror makes no sense. They endeavored to impeach him for “lying.” The childish Americus Rex, in his arrogance and paranoia, believed that the President was simply “creating” dangers out of thin air to create a dependency on him, or that he was merely in a war to increase his personal power and wealth. Some wrote vile poems about him and created ludicrous music – some so vile that, in the name of decency, will not even be quoted or cited as evidence.
Others mocked him, made silly caricatures (i.e. impersonations and cartoons and attempts to name a sewage plant after him), and in their elated delirium began seeing things in him that were not really there. For instance, one prominent spiritual teacher (yes, spiritual teacher) wrote, “One of the most unnerving things about George Bush is his smile. As the situation in Iraq has grown more calamitous, the smile hasn’t disappeared. It’s become markedly patronizing, saying, ‘I’m right on this. The rest of you just don’t understand.’” (Chopra, n.d.). This sentiment was not original, see the psychiatrist’s Justin Frank’s Bush on the Couch. Note also the many that claimed the Patriot Act is un-America (read “unbecoming of Mother”) and enacted to take our liberties (read “take our power.”) In short, the Father figure was seen to be maneuvering to become that Orwellian Big Brother so that he could control the child even beyond his physical strength. (This is more of an adolescent variant of the Oedipal complex than infant.)
Some others compared him to the worst spirits in modern and contemporary history – Hitler, Stalin, bin Laden, Saddam, etceteraetera. Senator John Gleen said he was up to the “old Hitler business.” Some, like Al Gore, called the President a fascist, brown-shirt, who had hidden motives that only those with vision and insight (like themselves) could see (e.g. read the books: Conason’s It Can Happen Here or Wolf’s The End of America). More still, some derided him as a “king” (see Scheer’s “The Madness of King George”). Others waited for any opportunity to call him a moron for any trivial matter such as getting stuck at a locked door, or claim that he is suffering from some sort of personality disorder. They did so in order to discredit him to the point of making him irrelevant, that is, to make him “dead to the world.” To adduce, Heilemann (1997) wrote,
Has Bush simply lost touch with political reality? Or has he actually lost his mind? …Pathological narcissism? Delusions of grandeur? Res ipsa loquitur. There have been other presidents, of course, who could readily be described as suffering from these same maladies. (All of them, you could argue.) But not since Richard Nixon has Washington seen a case so severe—or so tragic.
It would be worth reading Robbins and Post (1997) for an authentic detailed investigation into the actions, feelings and behaviors of truly mentally ill leaders – one will find Bush has none of the symptoms.
Americus Rex also attempted to kill him off by abetting his enemies and cheering his opposites as well as by opposing all of his policies. They even, contrary to their own impulse to have Mother’s love all to themselves, shared Mother’s Ideals with others, simply because Father did not like them (an enemy of my enemy is my friend). To instance, Americus Rex applauded the deal to give Guantanamo detainees the right to United States trials (something the President was ardently against); Americus Rex swoons over the supposed antipode of President Bush in the candidate Barack Obama; and Americus Rex mocked his right-hearted “faith-based” initiative calling it, among other things, “theocratic.”
The main point again is this: All these destructive acts and castigations are blatant or subtle wish-fulfillments to do away with Father-figure’s Power and Authority – just as the young children on those remote islands wanted to do away with their uncles. And true to the Oedipal Complex and paranoia symptoms in general – all the anger is based, at least partially, on reality. That is what makes it so hard to break this complex. Americus Rex was not acting on fancy alone. Did George Bush go to war with a country that had not directly attacked it? Yes. Did Hitler go to war with a country that had not directly attacked it? Yes. Thus, to a person with a lack of context as well as sophistication concerning international policies and the history of failures to implement preemptive war, Hitler and Bush seem to be cut from the same clothe. They justify their hatred for Bush with such weak correlations and second-rate analysis that one with common sense, or a first year logic student should be able to see through it. Indeed, any traditional historian not suffering from an Oedipus Complex him or herself (some such historians still do exist) can explain the nonsense of these claims. In a way, the beliefs held about President George Bush are just like dreams: they are based on partial facts which seem real enough that they can ignite emotions, and thereby, it gives these ludicrous beliefs the meretricious and specious allure of Truth. To be clear, this paper is neutral on Bush’s policies, the attack is against those who irrationally hate the man.
The above mentioned thoughts, actions, words, movements, movies, books, articles, statements and so on “kill” or at least attempt render obsolete the Father Bush who is supposedly taking the child’s rights and freedoms away. This is, in Freudian argot, the fear of so-called castration, that is, the fear of losing one’s ability to act autonomously. If an Oedipal Complex is still strongly intact it takes very little to send someone over the edge into violent irrationality. Recall that Oedipus killed his Father Lauis for not letting him pass the road (and a strike to the back of the head), that is, Oedipus killed his father for seemingly taking his autonomy away. Irrationality can be explained as an overreaction, Oedipus said that because his father struck him in the back of the head, that he repaid his father “with interest.”
Further, it seems denigration via projection occurs when those who cannot imagine themselves having power without abusing power cannot possibly imagine that someone else could have power without abusing it as well. This is a sort of narcissism expressed as a pan-cynicism in that one is looking into the world and only seeing his or her own nature reflected back. Indeed, instead of facing up to the reality that one is incapable of handling power, one instead tries to level the entire world into one mentality – his or her own. They see the President not as he is, but as they are, that is, weak. It is narcissistic because they believe if they personally would abuse power then so would everyone else. Indeed, it is the child, mostly an id being, who would wreak havoc if he had the same power and strength as the President – no one wants Americus Rex in power.
Preemptive Strikes on Criticism
The first objection to this paper could possibly be that (1) the Oedipus Complex does not exist and (2) that there are other causes to the neurosis even if it does exist. Concerning (1), there is indeed much research dealing with the particulars of Freud’s theory, and it seems the particulars are wrong (Kupfersmid, 1995). However, the broad strokes of his theory seem to be intact, and it is seems universalizable (Brenner,1957; English & English, 1958; Kline, 1981). And although the Oedipus Complex cannot be ‘found’ via experimental research, “For many practicing psychoanalysts, having considerable clinical experience is considered the acme of evidence for holding one’s position [that the complex exists]” (Simon, 1991). In sum, for many practitioners the Oedipus Complex is very real.
Now, concerning (2), that there are other causes to neurosis, this writer does not disagree. However, it seems that in this age, in this Western world, the Oedipus Complex is the most pervasive explanation for the current collective mentality – more evidence for this will be adduced shortly.
A second objection that may arise is that the Oedipus Complex deals with the masculine child, and obviously, probably nigh half of Americus Rex are women. The retort is, again, that the complex is not biological/anatomical, but symbolic. Symbolically, the Oedipus complex is a childish complex. The child fears of loss of autonomy (which is really the Electra Complex as well), and thus hates the Father Figure for those reasons. This would be true regardless of chromosomal arrangement.
A third objection may be that some will argue that this paper assumes that a large portion of United States’ society suffers from an unresolved Oedipus Complex, that is, that they are slightly mentally ill. Such critics would thereby be implying that it is impossible for so many people to be mentally ill. The defense against this is simply (a) the percentages as adduced by the National Institute of Mental Health put the number of mentally ill in America at around 26.2% of people 18 and older (i.e. voting age) (Kessler, Chiu, Demler, and Walters, 2005), and (b) we are not speaking of psychosis, but merely neurosis, to use familiar terms, that is, of living in a mental reality that may not mirror the actual reality. Such people have a level of functioning that is not impaired on any major scale; however, they would fail certain measures of “reality testing.”
Some may also ask, “What proof is there that the Oedipus Complex is active in today’s society besides hatred of the President?” The question is a good one, and the ability to evidence more proof of the Oedipus Complex is actually quite simple, for it manifests in innumerable ways in today’s America. For instance, beyond politics, one can simply notice how the youth of this era react to authority. Twenge, in her popular book Generation Me (2006) notes that today the youth is driven by “individuality’ and is told to “be yourself” while it used to be “be polite.” She further states says this generation has an attitude of “Who cares what you think?” Most music, movies, dances, manners, language customs, sexual habits, business trends and public outbursts of emotion all seem to be an irrational rebellion against authority. The whole notion that young people should “Question Authority” came about in the 1960’s, but today, that notion has been transformed into “total disrespect” (Twenge, 2006, p. 18). Indeed, anecdotally, many notice the disrespect given to police officers, teachers, and security guards by many in our population simply because they are in positions of power. Underneath all of this is a desire for power itself. In fact, all these authority figures have to do is merely ask for some identification or for an assignment and the Oedipal Complex ignites and good people become irrationally mad, sensitive, oppositional and difficult – akin to Oedipus’ rage when he met his father in the road.
More proof of Oedipal tendencies in our culture include the fact that many relish in denigration of noble men – notice the urge to defile the heroic at every turn (e.g. the most recent is General Petraeus who was mocked in the New York Times as General Betray Us). Furthermore, it seems many Americans also hate and denigrate all forms of successful power and traditional power such as Wal-Mart, capitalism, doctors, priests, and of course, the presidents and CEOs of large organizations. The new “play” or “documentary” denigrating these things is surely in the works as this is written.
Concomitant with hatred of authority is paranoia – much as the child is paranoid of the father-figure’s size and strength. And as we would expect, notice how paranoid this nation is: many easily fall for conspiracy theories about the motives and actions of our bosses, teachers, and supervisors. All these are signs of authority issues which in turn are signals of an unresolved Oedipal Complexes. And certainly, the complex is prevalent in every age, in every culture, for every presidency, for every position of leadership since the beginning of time, since the beginning of the United States –but it seems, that it is in our age, the sheer numbers of extremely unresolved Oedipal Complex are growing (see vis-à-vis Twenge’s meta-analysis on the shifting attitudes of the youth, or Keen’s Cult of the Amateur).
Also consider the ease with which delusion can spread in this age with the advent of blogs, YouTube, MySpace and so forth; indeed, local personality disorders can become a contagion. A small histrionic group of people “blog” their views and millions of people are exposed and infected with their neurosis (e.g. memes). Mackay (1841) wrote an entire book concerning the history of madness and how it rapt, at times, entire cities and in some cases, countries. Are much of the 1960s and the years 2001 to 2008 not the most startling example of a rampant unresolved Oedipal Complex?
Lastly, some may argue, that yes, the Oedipus Complex exists and explains the hatred for the President, but so what about it? What is the big deal if some people hate the President? This is folly, for the predomination of the Oedipus Complex is not some innocuous phenomenon; there are indeed many dangers if a nation does not stem the tide of the rising Oedipal Complexes in this country. To name but a few: First, people will vote on emotion more than rationality. They will vote not someone who is wise with power, but someone who, like them, seems to reject the power structure. This is the formula which has allowed some sinister men (usually “populists) to ride the tide of the populace’s anti-authority fervor until they can become an authoritarian dictator. Indeed, study the history of some of the greatest dictators of all time (e.g. Hitler, Castro, Amin, etcetera.) – note how they started off with noble ideals and fell. The Oedipus Complex makes one prone to elect tomorrow’s dictator because they believe today’s liberator will not be so Fatherly. They yearn for a solely “Motherly” world, one might call it a total “Nanny State.” In an uninformed world, the old failures of communism will once again rise up, and a hoard of naive people ignorant of history will try these “new” forms of government invariably leading to pestilence and penury.
A second example of the danger of the Oedipus Complex would be the extreme permissiveness which it will engender. How long before those with unresolved Oedipus Complexes reach a critical mass of votes so they can legislate and foist their licentious, id wishes onto the rest of us? They grow not just by converting others but also by converting newly arrived immigrants. They inject their Oedipal natures into newcomers, making them hate power as well. For the first time in the history of this country (Europe currently has the same problem with another people), it seems that a large swatch of newly arrived people desiring to be Americans are told that to be America is to first learn the hideousness of its past leaders, and resent its so-called oppressive present. This cannot possibly create a sound, healthy society. Just as a person filled with guilt is unproductive, easily agitated and prone to violent outburst, a society is as well.
A third danger is simply the overall decline in manners and optimism which any paranoid mind foments. The Oedipus Complex ruins the ability of people to be kind, for kindness, in the mind of an adolescent is often seen weakness. Hence, feminists, socialists, anarchists, communists, fascists, and other “ists” (both left and right politically) are often accused of being utterly unhappy. It is because they live in fear of giving up power or looking weak. Further, they believe all success is subterfuge, and thereby, the economy of an Oedipal dominated world is doomed. They will create laws in which no one can get ahead of the other, and ironically, would have to be regulated by truly scary fatherly figures – the despot, extremely large government bureaucracy, etcetera.. These are just a few of the dangers of the complex becoming more pervasive, and thus, it is wise to remember, as history has shown time after time that the irrational fear of power is just as baleful as cowardly submission to it.
Conclusion: The Death of America?
In sum, the next time the urge to hate some Authority figure arises it may be wise to look in the mirror and sees that twenty five hundred year old face staring back; indeed, we are all Oedipus at times. Just as that creation of Sophocles unwittingly killed his Father and loved his Mother all to himself, some of us too, Americus Rex, yearned to raze our Father (President Bush) from this earth and Love our Mother (America and her ideals) all by our self. We should not feel compunction about this, for this complex is natural and has been verified repeatedly in clinical experience. None of us, from the cornfields of Ohio, to the streets of New York City, to the beaches of Malibu, to the jungles of Africa, to the deserts of Arabia and so on, are immune to the Oedipal Complex. It is part of being born human. It is a healthy part of our nature to resist and be skeptical of authority, but taken too far it becomes an obnoxious, irrational overcorrection to the so-called slave mentality. We must watch for it in every age, with every new leader – he will surely not be the last to hated for having power. He may Republican or Democrat, though Republican conservative language seems to trigger the Oedipal rage quicker and more pervasively. Above all, let us who are aware of the complex not forget that with knowledge of Oedipus’ fate we can overcome and resolve this conflict by reminding our panicked Americus Rex friends that they are probably overreacting. We must understand that their hate is buried deep in their minds and hearts, so near to them that they cannot see it without patient introspection and observation of their reactions to power. We must tell them to learn to discern good from bad, and thereby distinguish authoritative from authoritarian authority. We must explain that they have every right to civilly dissent against a leader, and it is wise to do so without hating him; that they can disagree with his policies ardently, but they should try not drift into hatred. We must tell them they can ennoble, and possibly save society by doing so. But, we must warn them, if they do not, if continually attempt to proverbially slay noble Presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, they too, like Oedipus before them, may end feeling cursed by their own murderous hands which indirectly, lead to the death of their beloved Mother.
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 Throughout the paper, many of the ‘insults’ hurled at the President are not sourced simply because (1) it makes the paper appear too choppy and (2) so many have uttered it is hard to cite just one source.
 Charles Kruthammer, a psychiatrist and political writer, coined the phrase.
 The following psychoanalytic theories are a hodgepodge of classical Freudian thought along with some Neo-Freudian thought. The basic structure is in place as well as logical extrapolations which stem from all the multifarious Freudian theory.
 Recall it is not the Father as he really is, or the Mother as she really is. It is the Mother and Father through the eyes of the infant. Sometimes, the perception is accurate, others times not. It depends on how much the Oedipus Complex has been diminished, and whether the child had a legitimate reason to hate or love one or other of his parents.
 Ironically, as Vitz (1995) pointed out atheism may actually be the epitome of an unresolved Oedipus complex, in that, the ultimate father figure has been killed and replaced with one’s self.
 Any immigrant more than likely has been brought up with, perhaps even more so, the mystique of Mother America.
 Shot after hung? This irrationality, this overkill is typical of illness.
 This refers to Cheney accidentally shooting a hunting partner on a hunting trip.
 The superego is our conscience, the imbibed rules from our family, mentor and society.
 Kupfersmid is uncertain of the Oedipus Complex existence; however, the clinical experience for it still seems strong.