From Encyclopedia of Sex and Sexuality
Although less firmly established in traditional psychoanalytic theory than the Oedipus complex, the term Electra complex is used to describe a little girl’s intense attachment to her father and rivalry with her mother during the genital stage of development. The girl’s response to her “castration anxiety” is to transfer her love of the missing organ, the penis, onto the bearer of that organ, hence her insistence on being “daddy’s only loved one.” The resolution of the Electra complex normally results in a shift away from the paternal figure to a suitable love object, who can provide a satisfying emotional and sexual life and can join her in bringing children into the world. According to Freudian psychosexual theory, failure to resolve the Electra complex can create serious problems for women, making it difficult for them to abandon their fathers for acceptable partners.
The Electra complex takes its name from the Greek legend of Electra, the sister of Orestes, who helped him kill their mother, the evil Clytemnestra, in retaliation for Clytemnestra’s killing of their father Agamemnon. In the modern theater, Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra is a famous retelling of this ancient tale.