Electra Complex: Are You A Daddy’s Girl?


“So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do” (John Mayer)

The presence of a “Father figure” is very important for the normal growth of a child. A girl child especially. He is also very important to the health of a daughter’s emotional upbringing and psychological growth. A father’s presence can fill up a daughter’s most memorable moments. The father, being the first adult male encounter of any daughter, can write the success or failure of the daughter’s future relationships with men.

Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist, and the founder of analytical psychology who proposed “Electra complex” as part of the Neo-Freudian psychology. Freud developed the term Oedipal Complex and helped develop the theory of the Electra. Not going to harp on the ethical and moralistic desire of father and daughter bonding, more than a girl’s phallic stage, it’s about the “Daddy- issues” that one ignores and doesn’t want to talk about as a girl grows up. Nobody cares about the narratives of either of them. It’s forbidden.

A young girl’s first relationship starts with her father.

Daughter -father complex issues can stem from various reasons. Reasons could vary from an overbearing father, an absentee father or even from the mother. Yes, even from the mommy of the house!

What is Daddy issues/ complex?

“Daddy issues” is the opposite of Electra Complex, which refers to something of a slang term for the idea of the Electra complex or Bernfield Factor. It is a syndrome where the daughter competes with her mother for the attention of the father. A girl who is ultra-flirtations and is also sexually aggressive and wants to catch men’s attention, then there is a very high chance that the girl has the Electra complex/syndrome.

The origin

This syndrome if overpoweringly strong, at times, is not an outcome of a normal upbringing for a girl.

Such behavior, when exhibited by females, was a desire to “become pregnant by the father and kill the mother,” or alternately, evoked the idea that women entering puberty suffered from “penis envy,” the failure to have a phallus.

There is a lot of debate on whether such daddy issues truly exist, and much debate on the Oedipal complex as a whole.Often though, in the colloquial sense, the idea of having daddy issues relates more to the fact that a girl received inadequate or inappropriate attention from the father figure in her life. In fact, the problem also arises from the father being too overbearing, or being very strict, curbing and constricting the freedom of the daughter, and imposing superficial perfectionism. Any daughter will respond to this in two ways, either revolt or accept the challenge and live on to relive her father’s unfinished dreams.

There are instances where the father wanted a son and ended up getting a daughter and because of this unfulfilled and unrealized dream or expectation; the daughter is brought up in a certain way to fill up the void of having no son. She compromises her natural growth in initial development and compensates the absence of a male child in her family by playing the role of a son herself. This unrealized expectation or dream, if not properly channeled, will make the daughter feel inferior.  This can cause the daughter to excel in school and colleges and universities and work places but,unbeknownst to the outside world, she has poor self-image and is over-stressed trying to live up to her father’s expectations.


Father or no father: Warning bells and symptoms?

“Daddy, I have had to kill you.   

You died before I had time—

… Not God but a swastika

So black no sky could squeak through.   

Every woman adores a Fascist,   

The boot in the face, the brute   

Brute heart of a brute like you.”

-“Daddy” by Sylvia Plath

The ultimate dad-resenter, Plath ended up marrying a man who proved to be just as disappointing to her. Plath’s father, Otto, died when she was just eight years old, and left an indelible imprint on her psyche.

A daughter grows up to have a complex and confused self-identity if she has a problem with her father. It so happens and it does at some point of her life, when she will start thinking about her life as to why she is feeling “not herself”. She will even go to the point of considering herself unsuccessful in spite of being successful in every sphere of her life. Living up to the expectation of her father will, over the time, strain her life with her father and will make her go against her father or it will be her downfall as self-destruction. The self-destruction could involve her to indulge in smocking and low grades. She might further resort to drugs and alcohol as a means of rebel.

Even the lack of a father can be harmful at times. A situation where a father who suddenly leaves the family without any word can impact and leave a very strong dent on the self-esteem of a daughter. The daughter grows up feeling worthless. Some may even feel that they were the reason of the father’s departure. The pent-up bottled anger can cause the mental health of the girl to deteriorate and cause further complicacy.

Even, a lecherous father is not a welcoming gesture, either. The worst daughter and father complex issue is if the daughter feels that the father is touching her inappropriately or lusts for her. These complex issues can cause not only stress, depression or anxiety but even neurosis. The girl can hate the father and hate herself for allowing such things to happen.

What you can do

Many daughters suffering from this daughter and father complex issue may not even recognize the root cause of her failing life. With low self-confidence and feeling of guilt, a daughter can grow up to be withdrawn and mediocre. The daughter’s yearning for a father’s affection, protection and guidance can cause deep melancholy and pain as the girl grows up. Parents should recognize that daughter and father complex issues are real and can devastate the future of their daughter. They should work out a plan on raising their daughter properly. A genuinely caring father who gives time and shows affection to his young daughter can provide an anchor so that her girl will not go astray; and keep on the right path towards success in different fronts of life.

Proper care and therapy can at times reconcile a past father/daughter relationship, often through therapy, that wasn’t altogether satisfactory.


Asp Auplish

Image Source: The Viewspaper