It's no secret that gaming in families can deepen longstanding conflicts. But it's Monopoly that has historically caused even the most sedate auntie to try and send the whole group to jail. Is it the Chance? The Community Chest? The natural grievances brought out by an inflated property market?
Monopoly brings out latent rivalriesShow moreShow less
Sibling rivalries? Daddy issues? Every family has unseen issues that come to the surface in competitive environments.
Parent-child relationships can often feel strained, and games like Monopoly do not help relieve this tension. In fact, Monopoly may bring internalized conflicts between parents and children to their conscious awareness. According to famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Frued, all children have an Oedipus complex, which subtly manifests itself in their thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
Freud’s theory states that male children are unconsciously sexually attracted to their mothers, and thus see their fathers as rivals. The opposite is true for female children, who are said to unconsciously desire their fathers and hate their mothers. Though most people successfully repress these unacceptable urges, they have a tendency to reappear in subtle ways, like on board game night.
If Freud’s theory is correct, then unconscious forces could be at play in our interactions with our family even during the tamest game of Monopoly. The rivalry children feel for their same-sex parent is intensified by externalized competition on the game board.
Likewise, the desire they feel for their opposite-sex parent may breed increased internal conflict as they are forced to compete against them. In this way, the internal conflicts felt by children are subtly manifested onto the game board, inciting the fights that so often characterize Monopoly.
Freud's work on the Oedipus complex has been widely discredited by other psychologists as unfounded speculation. Moreover, it is fundamentally impossible to confirm that such a complex truly influences the way we interact with the world around us or if it exists at all. Simply put, we cannot know what our mind is repressing, making it illogical to put any stock into Freud's theory.