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Rosenman, S. (1982). The Legend of Oedipus: Victimizing Implantations. Am. Imago, 39(2):119-132.

(1982). American Imago, 39(2):119-132

The Legend of Oedipus: Victimizing Implantations

Stanley Rosenman, Ph.D.

Legends imaginatively set forth a group's issues and ideal modes of problem-resolution. The legend, an enduring collective fantasy often with vague claims to historical truth, is shaped by the group's central concern of attaining a positive and unique identity while attempting to assure group survival and actualize its goals. The legend serves to strengthen the group's identity by marking off its distinctiveness from other negatively regarded groups. These tasks give rise to wishes and defenses in the context of a basic collective vision of itself and its place in the world. The fantasied legend begins with the wish.

In considerable measure, man's motivations are determined by the remembrance of past mortifications. Man wishes above all to master the past states of catastrophic powerlessness. Psychic structures crystallized by mortifications set up inhibiting and promoting tendencies in the individual's assumption of social roles and achievement of individual goals. The group employs the legend to push its inhibited members to sacrificial action, channeling the behavior of free spirits into flamboyantly heroic deeds on behalf of the group. Lessons drawn from the legend are also in the service of restraining reckless anti-social acts whose chief purpose is overcoming the individual's early traumas, no matter the cost to the collective. That is, the legend moralizes to the group members about suitable as opposed to transgressive ways to respond in order to overcome the sense of having been helplessly victimized in the past.

Different historical periods, geographic regions, and social classes of a people conduce to divergences from its fundamental world view. Consequently, variant versions of a group's legends are set forth.

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