Sigmund Freud, an American scholar who put both theories in the field of psychology, is credited with key turning points in his field when he revolutionized the field of psychoanalysis. Many of his theories became major ideas within literary criticisms. Freud read Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and it immediately determined that the underlying ideas in this drama would become a large part of his studies. The tragedies and misfortunes of Oedipus Rex opened new doors to the applications of his theories and the subject of his definition of an Oedipal Complex that still is studied today. .
The theory dictates that all children feel sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex and the death of the parent of the same sex, and is today believed to be manifest only in very young children. In terms of the play, the Oedipus Complex is extremely unhelpful: firstly, because Oedipus is not a child when Sophocles' play takes place, but secondly (and more importantly) because the play rests on the fact that he is unaware of the identity of his parents when he respectively murders and sleeps with them.
The psychoanalytical process outlined by Sigmund Freud shows Oedipus as a man driven by the inner workings of his psyche. Oedipus has repressed the disturbing memories of killing his father into that part of his psyche, which is his unconscious mind. The understanding that Oedipus has unconscious knowledge of his crime is supported by the similarity between the play's narrative and structure and the psychoanalytical process laid down by Sigmund Freud. The play follows the template of the Freudian psychoanalytical process. Oedipus' unconscious essentially holds his troubling past but he is not aware of it consciously and this represents having a significant impact on current events in his life. Oedipus must look into his past in order to figure out the meaning of this current situation. In this sense, the conflict is not simply one where Oedipus makes a discovery about his past but, he is also bringing his unconscious knowledge into his consciousness.