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Kavka, J. (1963). The Theme of Patricide in a Female Chess Player. Am. Imago, 20(2):149-159.

(1963). American Imago, 20(2):149-159

The Theme of Patricide in a Female Chess Player

Jerome Kavka, M.D.

Aggression is the “soul” of chess, according to most students of this ancient and popular competition. However, psychoanalytic insights have yielded the subtler meanings of patricidal intent as the central theme symbolized in the game. This finding has been consistent in historical and clinical studies, despite evidence of a broad range of ego functions involved in chess playing. There is agreement that the game lends itself to an elaboration of the family romance wherein many aspects of family situations may be enacted. In general, the chess game facilitates mastery over a sublimated aggressive situation. In particular, it allows for the working out of numerous varieties and derivatives of the oedipal constellation. Not only is the patricidal impulse given expression in the game, but denials of such are contained in its rules (9).

Inasmuch as chess is essentially a man's game, the clinical laterature on chess is confined to the description of male players, except for a brief allusion to a female player by Coriat (1). While women are known to play the game, they are not, in general and as compared to men, inclined to find much fascination in it. (3, 8, 9). Jones ascribed this to their not having the psychological need for father-murder (8). While this is usual, clinical practice affords exceptions.

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