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Kulish, N. Holtzman, D. (2018). Twos and Threes: Musical Chairs in Female Psychic and Social Life. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 66(3):443-472.

(2018). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 66(3):443-472

Twos and Threes: Musical Chairs in Female Psychic and Social Life

Nancy Kulish and Deanna Holtzman

Jockeying for position in the context of a threesome is a major preoccupation in female social behavior, and in female inner experience, throughout the life cycle. This oscillating phenomenon can be thought of as “twos and threes.” While such configurations are often understood in terms of sibling rivalry or social influences, the focus here is on underlying female triangular dynamics. “Twos and threes” are differentiated from the more familiar rivalries among siblings and from the concept of sibling oedipal triangles. Clinical examples and a contemporary novel by Tana French are presented to demonstrate that concealed and overlooked female oedipal or persephonal conflicts may underlie these experiences and appear in the transference and countertransference.

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