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Divorcing Oedipus





Divorcing Oedipus

Faith Nathaniel, a mom in her early thirties, is living the picture-perfect life. Trey, her husband, is tall, dark, handsome, and in-line to take over his family’s multimillion-dollar business, a privately-owned drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, St. Mary’s. Faith matches all the expected images-she volunteers at her children’s private school works with charities, and co-hosts Gala’s across Fairbanks. Initially, she is unfailingly supportive of her husband and of her family’s success. She is happy to write Trey’s papers for his master’s degree. She loves taking care of his very ill stepfather during the day. She delights in telling his mother how beautiful she is every waking minute.


One night in October, Faith’s perfect picture is shattered forever. She intercepts a suspicious text message on Trey’s phone. She confronts him. He refuses to reveal his mistress’s identity. Faith is anguished and kicks him out. Trey moves in with his mother. The following day, Trey and his mother began to viciously attack a heartbroken, unsuspecting, naïve Faith. Faith is left bewildered and with a lot of unanswered questions. As time passes, Faith keeps hoping things will get better, but as family secrets are uncovered, her situation progressively worsens.


Eventually, Trey turns to opioids, loses his job, and as a last attempt to save his marriage, he confesses his mother’s plot to remove Faith from the family, using Helga, a middle-aged, married employee and mother of five as the temptress. 


Faith, in despair, tries to find herself; she turns to prayer, God, and a lover named Brad.


Divorcing Oedipus is a whirlwind page-turner about the lives of an American family, struggling with mental illness, power, and greed. M. Ophelia’s hilarious narrative, about the pitfalls of a wife trying to live her life to please others and getting gobsmacked for her efforts, is a riveting, realistic story of a powerless wife and mother navigating an elitist Alaskan family, who employ their excessive resources to destroy her. Will she recoil in retreat? Or will she make lemonade out of lemons?


If you or anyone you know struggles with self-harm or substance abuse, please seek help by calling the SAMHSA 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Divorcing Oedipus
Divorcing Oedipus


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Divorcing Oedipus







"A profound thank you to editors

Sabine Sloley and Laurel Leigh."

~ M. Ophelia

Understanding the book - Who is Oedipus? 

What is Oedipus?

Oedipus (UK: /ˈiːdɪpəs/, US: /ˈiːdəpəs, ˈɛdə-/; Greek: Οἰδίπους Oidípous meaning "swollen foot") was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. A tragic hero in Greek mythology, Oedipus accidentally fulfilled a prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother, thereby bringing disaster to his city and family.


The story of Oedipus is the subject of Sophocles' tragedy Oedipus Rex, which is followed in the narrative sequence by Oedipus at Colonus and then Antigone. Together, these plays make up Sophocles' three Theban plays. Oedipus represents two enduring themes of Greek myth and drama: the flawed nature of humanity and an individual's role in the course of destiny in a harsh universe.


In the best known version of the myth, Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta. Laius wished to thwart the prophecy, so he sent a shepherd-servant to leave Oedipus to die on a mountainside. However, the shepherd took pity on the baby and passed him to another shepherd who gave Oedipus to King Polybus and Queen Merope to raise as their own. Oedipus learned from the oracle at Delphi of the prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother but, unaware of his true parentage, believed he was fated to murder Polybus and marry Merope, so left for Thebes. On his way he met an older man and killed him in a quarrel. Continuing on to Thebes, he found that the king of the city (Laius) had been recently killed, and that the city was at the mercy of the Sphinx. Oedipus answered the monster's riddle correctly, defeating it and winning the throne of the dead king – and the hand in marriage of the king's widow, who was also (unbeknownst to him) his mother Jocasta.


Years later, to end a plague on Thebes, Oedipus searched to find who had killed Laius, and discovered that he himself was responsible. Jocasta, upon realizing that she had married her own son, hanged herself. Oedipus then seized two pins from her dress and blinded himself with them.


The legend of Oedipus has been retold in many versions, and was used by Sigmund Freud to name and give mythic precedent to the Oedipus complex.

Divorcing Oedipus

What is Oedipus Complex?

In classical psychoanalytic theory, the Oedipus complex occurs during the phallic stage of psychosexual development (age 3–6 years), when also occurs the formation of the libido and the ego; yet it might manifest itself at an earlier age.


In the phallic stage, a boy's decisive psychosexual experience is the Oedipus complex—his son–father competition for possession of mother. It is in this third stage of psychosexual development that the child's genitalia is his or her primary erogenous zone; thus, when children become aware of their bodies, the bodies of other children, and the bodies of their parents, they gratify physical curiosity by undressing and exploring themselves, each other, and their genitals, so learning the anatomic differences between male and female and the gender differences between boy and girl.


Psychosexual infantilism—Despite mother being the parent who primarily gratifies the child's desires, the child begins forming a discrete sexual identity—"boy", "girl"—that alters the dynamics of the parent and child relationship; the parents become objects of infantile libidinal energy. The boy directs his libido (sexual desire) upon his mother and directs jealousy and emotional rivalry against his father—because it is he who sleeps with his mother. Moreover, to facilitate union with mother, the boy's id wants to kill father (as did Oedipus), but the pragmatic ego, based upon the reality principle, knows that the father is the stronger of the two males competing to possess the one female. Nonetheless, the boy remains ambivalent about his father's place in the family, which is manifested as fear of castration by the physically greater father; the fear is an irrational, subconscious manifestation of the infantile id.[19]


Psycho-logic defense—In both sexes, defense mechanisms provide transitory resolutions of the conflict between the drives of the id and the drives of the ego. The first defense mechanism is repression, the blocking of memories, emotional impulses, and ideas from the conscious mind; yet its action does not resolve the id–ego conflict. The second defense mechanism is identification, in which the boy or girl child adapts by incorporating, to his or her (super)ego, the personality characteristics of the same-sex parent. As a result of this, the boy diminishes his castration anxiety, because his likeness to father protects him from father's wrath in their maternal rivalry. In the case of the girl, this facilitates identifying with mother, who understands that, in being females, neither of them possesses a penis, and thus are not antagonists.[20]


Dénouement—Unresolved son–father competition for the psycho-sexual possession of the mother might result in a phallic stage fixation that leads to the boy becoming an aggressive, over-ambitious, and vain man. Therefore, the satisfactory parental handling and resolution of the Oedipus complex are most important in developing the male infantile super-ego. This is because, by identifying with a parent, the boy internalizes Morality; thereby, he chooses to comply with societal rules, rather than reflexively complying in fear of punishment.

Divorcing Oedipus

Narcissim & the Oedipus Complex?

In regard to narcissism, the Oedipus complex is viewed as the pinnacle of the individual's maturational striving for success or for love.[26] In The Economic Problem of Masochism (1924), Freud writes that in "the Oedipus complex... [the parent's] personal significance for the superego recedes into the background' and 'the imagos they leave behind... link [to] the influences of teachers and authorities...". Educators and mentors are put in the ego ideal of the individual and they strive to take on their knowledge, skills, or insights.


In Some Reflections on Schoolboy Psychology (1914), Freud writes:

"We can now understand our relation to our schoolmasters. These men, not all of whom were in fact fathers themselves, became our substitute fathers. That was why, even though they were still quite young, they struck us as so mature and so unattainably adult. We transferred on to them the respect and expectations attaching to the omniscient father of our childhood, and we then began to treat them as we treated our fathers at home. We confronted them with the ambivalence that we had acquired in our own families and with its help, we struggled with them as we had been in the habit of struggling with our fathers..."

The Oedipus complex, in narcissistic terms, represents that an individual can lose the ability to take a parental-substitute into his ego ideal without ambivalence. Once the individual has ambivalent relations with parental-substitutes, he will enter into the triangulating castration complex. In the castration complex the individual becomes rivalrous with parental-substitutes and this will be the point of regression. In Psycho-analytic notes on an autobiographical account of a case of paranoia (Dementia paranoides) (1911), Freud writes that "disappointment over a woman" (object drives) or "a mishap in social relations with other men" (ego drives) is the cause of regression or symptom formation. Triangulation can take place with a romantic rival, for a woman, or with a work rival, for the reputation of being more potent.[27]

Divorcing Oedipus

There are two powers in the world;

one is the sword and the other the pen. There is a third power stronger

than both, that of women.

~ Malala Yousafzai

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