Jocasta Complex

Jocasta Complex – Does a Mother Sexually Desire Her Son?

~Sanvi Mathur

History

Before diving right into the interesting subject, let us read in brief about Jocasta and how her fate led to the origin of the Jocasta Complex.

In Greek mythology, Jocasta was the daughter of Monoeceus, the king of Thebes and the wife of Lauis. Lauis was given a very strange prophecy that if he ever fathered a child, the child would kill him and marry his wife. Saints also warned Lauis that he could only save his city if he died childlessly.

However, one night, Lauis came back drunk. In the trance of alcohol, Lauis lost control over himself, totally forgetting about the prophecy. He slept with his wife that night and that led to the birth of Oedipus.

Lauis, afraid of his death, ordered a shepherd to take the infant to Mount Cithaeron in order to kill him. The shepherd took pity on the infant and handed the infant to a childless couple, Polybus the king of Corinth, and his wife Merope. Born and brought up by them, Oedipus was unaware of his biological parents.

As he grew up, he came to know from an Oracle about the prediction of him killing his father and marrying his mother. In order to escape his ill-fate, Oedipus ran away from Corinth. While wandering around, on his way, he encountered a man and engaged in a heated argument with him over the right of the path.

The argument resulted in Oedipus killing the person. Little did he know that the person he killed was his father, Lauis, thus fulfilling the first half of the prophecy. Continuing his journey, Oedipus reached Thebes.

On reaching, he came to know that Thebes was being terrorized by a deadly creature, with a human head and the body of a lion, the Sphinx. The Sphinx asked a riddle to all the passerby as well as those who tried to enter Thebes. No one could answer the riddle and as a consequence, she killed them.

The riddle was,

“Which animal has one voice, but two, three, or four feet being slowest on three?”

Source

The answer to this was “Man”. Oedipus correctly answered it and thus the Sphinx killed herself.

He then married Jocasta, thus fulfilling the prophecy. The fact that Jocasta was his mother was obviously unknown to him or Jocasta herself. The couple had four children, PolynicesEteoclesAntigone, and Ismene.

Later, in an investigation to uncover Lauis’s death, Oedipus came to know the real truth behind his marriage. Upon knowing, Oedipus plucked his eyes out while Jocasta committed suicide.

What is the Jocasta Complex?

The Jocasta Complex is a mental condition of the mother wherein she develops a sexual affection/ sexual desire towards her son. However, in the mythological story, both Jocasta and Oedipus were unaware of their biological relation.

But when referred to such a condition, in reality, the condition involves complete awareness of the actual relation.

Oedipus and Jocasta - Jocasta Complex
Jocasta and Oedipus from BL Royal 16 G V, f. 27

Causes

There are several causes as to why this disease may originate in a woman. They are listed below.

  • The unfulfilled sexual desire of the mother from the husband’s part.
  • Over-concern for the male child in case he’s the only child and also in cases if one of the male children is the most preferred.         
  • If the male child suffers from the Oedipus complex (sexual attraction towards mother).
  • Death of the male life partner/husband.

Elaborating on the causes:

Unfulfilled Sexual Desire of the Mother

Conflicts between middle-aged couples are quite common but may sometimes be a cause of the complex to form. When the son is in his adolescence or adulthood, the mother might experience sudden mood swings, due to menopause (she might have high sexual desires, or at times nil).

 These varying levels of lust when not satisfied by her better half results in the woman starting to feel lonely. Naturally, she finds a reflection of her husband in her son, thus falling a victim to the Jocasta complex.

Over-concern for the Male Child

Often it is observed that a male child is more desired. The male child is more pampered, cared for, and over the years, the mother might develop inappropriate feelings for the child until the child grows into an adult.

Child Suffering from the Oedipus Complex

When a child is drawn into sexual attraction towards his mother, the mother might not be aware of this being a disorder and might reciprocate the love unknowingly.

Death of the Husband

It has been observed that in cases where the mother is either abandoned by her husband or is subject to the early death of her husband, her sexual needs aren’t fulfilled.

She thus starts expecting her child to be her saviour in all problems. She thus tends to fulfil her sexual needs using her son and thus falling prey to the Jocasta complex.

Symptoms 

This mental condition is categorized with a few unusual symptoms. The following symptoms can confirm that the women are suffering from Jocasta complex. This condition is not considered normal.

  • Dominance and deep praise, transforming into blind worship of the kid
  • Irresistible desire for permanent physical intimacy, sharing unshakable affection
  • The endless expectations Mother has on her part for a permanent son’s existence.

Elaborating on the symptoms:

Dominance and deep praise, transforming into blind worship of the kid

For a mother, the son is like the universe to her. It is normal for a mother to love her son truly and beyond any barrier but if she starts raving intensely and dominating her own son then it is not considered a normal thing. 

She might feel attached to her son because of his young age and also due to the newness. In such a condition, the mother will dominate her son and wants to have control over him so that he is always close to her. 

Whenever the kid asks or tells something, the woman will always consider this to be correct because of the worshipping behaviour that she developed when she started to feel for her own son.

She will try to make her son happiest being alive to benefit herself. After making the kid happy, she will surely get physical attention from her son.

Thus, a mother with such a mental condition will praise her son to the fullest. She will dominate him for getting what she desires from him. Also, she would worship him like anything just for the sake of love she wants in return.

Irresistible desire for permanent physical intimacy, sharing unshakable affection

Not only because of the young age and good looks but also for the attracting habits and soul of the son, his mother will develop a burning desire for physical intimate relationship.

She will want to have this relationship life-long without any controlled devotion. She will not like any disturbance and interference between her loved son and her.

The love which the women feel for his son deals with physical relation too. She would like to do everything with him just like she would have done with her age lover.

This bodily desire will be irresistible and in this condition, she will forget all the goods and bads. The only thing she cares for will be the intimate relationship she wants to share with her son.

Sculpture depicts oedipus complex and jocasta complex

The endless expectations mother has on her part for a permanent son’s existence

The Jocasta complex is a condition where a mother starts to get feelings for her own son. She starts liking and feels to share an intimate bond with her son.

With this process of worshipping the son, her expectations with him widen. She develops an attitude where she wants her son to be with him permanently.

Her son’s absence will make her worried. She will want a stable existence of a son with her. With every day passing, she will develop greater emotions for her son which is totally correct according to her.

Effects on Personal Life and Relationships

The Jocasta complex is something scary and drags the young adults or adolescents into activities they should be kept away from, by the most important woman of their lives, their mothers.

Some of its effects may involve:

  • The child is subjected to behavioural problems
  • Kills the chastity of the mother-son relationship
  • Children misinterpret their relations with elders 
  • The son begins to feel guilty and develops psychological problems. He might want to get out of this incestual relationship but pity for his mother always holds him back.

Ways to resolve Jocasta Complex

The best way to resolve any psychological condition is, to the first talk about it to the subjected person or the person ailing from it.

Most of the mental disorders can be overcome by sharing. Sharing one’s feelings or troubles with the people you trust, can help get rid of even the most deep-seated mental problems and anxieties.

Talking to a psychiatrist or a mental health counsellor is one of the most effective ways of preventing and reducing any mental complex or disorder.

Conclusion

The Jocasta Complex, like all other complexes, is a disorder of the mind. And like all disorders, this has a cure too. A woman who is a victim of the complex should never be blamed or defamed. Psychological disorders are something that no one has control over.

As for the woman who is a victim, don’t feel guilty, You’re not a criminal. Talk to your trusted ones. Consult a psychiatrist. The fight can be easily won!

Mothers too, however a special connection with their sons, or maybe a particular son (if there are more than one). It is the duty of the son(s) to take care of the mother’s mental health, get her diagnosed and treated by a counsellor as soon as possible.

The relationship between a mother and a son is sacred and should always be respected. It should not become weak or disrespected with a mental condition like this.

Anupam Kundu
A professional blogger and an IT freak. The atypical combo of a Civil Service aspirant and a Tech enthusiast.