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(1925). British Psycho-Analytical Society. Bul. Int. Psychoanal. Assn., 6:359-362.

(1925). Bulletin of the International Psycho-Analytic Association, 6:359-362

British Psycho-Analytical Society

First Quarter, 1925

January 7, 1925. Discussion on Miss Searl's paper, given at the last meeting, entitled 'A Question of Technique in Child-Analysis in Relation to the Oedipus Complex'.

Mrs. Riviere remarked that the inherited incest-prohibition arose originally from the impossibility of indulging Oedipus wishes without exposing the self to danger of death, i.e. from a self-preservative impulse within the individual, and not from any 'civilizing' tendency or disposition; it is therefore an introjection of this impossibility (of a state of things existing in reality) into the mind. This danger of death if Oedipus wishes are allowed to remain in consciousness or come into consciousness no longer exists; the original motive for repression is thus no longer valid.

The strength of inherited inhibitions is sufficient to ensure a moderate degree of control of the Oedipus wishes, which is the desideratum for normal development. The creation of an unduly strict or severe super-ego, evolved by a too extensive transmutation of repressed or undischarged parental object-cathexes into identifications, will be avoided by a sufficient degree of maintenance of these object-cathexes in consciousness, enabling them to be discharged and sublimated as such. But both these results depend on a normal environment for the child. Where the parents permit too great a discharge of Oedipus-libido, or encourage the creation of too severe a super-ego by favouring too heavy repression, the proper balance is likely to be difficult for the analyst to secure; in this quarter the true difficulties in the analysis of children are probably to be found, and not in any theoretical or inherent obstacle to it.

Dr. Ernest Jones distinguished between the possibility and the desirability of making the child aware of the full implications of the Oedipus complex during infancy. He considered the former question had been answered in the affirmative, and he knew of no reason why the latter should not also be so answered. He could not agree with the distinctions Miss Searl had drawn between infant and adult, for all the distinguishing points she mentioned were equally valid, particularly for the neurotic adult.

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