Campbell and Oedipus


Of all animals, we remain longest at the mother breast. Human beings are born too soon; they are unfinished, unready as yet to meet the world. Consequently their whole defense from a universe of dangers is the mother, under whose protection the intra-uterine period is prolonged. Hence the dependent child and its mother constitute for months after the catastrophe of birth a dual unit, notably physically but also psychologically. Any prolonged absence of the parent causes tension in the infant and consequent impulses of aggression. Also, when the mother is obliged to hamper the child, aggressive responses are aroused. Thus the first object of the child’s hostility is identical with the first object of its love, and its first ideal…

The unfortunate father is the first radical intrusion of another order of reality into the beatitude of this earthly restatement of the excellence within the womb. He is therefore experienced primarily as an enemy. To him is transferred the charge of aggression that was originally attached to the bad or absent mother…

Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s