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Mann, D. (1993). The shadow over Oedipus: the father's rivalry with his son. Free Associations, 4(1):44-62.

(1993). Free Associations, 4(1):44-62

The shadow over Oedipus: the father's rivalry with his son

David Mann

He whom I killed

Had sought to kill me first. The law

Acquits me innocent, as ignorant,

Of what I did.

(Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus)


In analytic literature it is usual to find the father presented in a negative light focusing either on his authoritarian aspect or on him as an abuser in incest. A few studies, such as Layland (1981, 1984), have attempted to explore the more positive side of the father's role. In this paper I wish to explore this emphasis on the negative as it is enacted through rivalry, but also to make suggestions about how this ubiquitous complex is helpful in the boy's development.

I intend to look at the father's role in the development of his son's Oedipus phase. My point is that the father's rivalry with his son has profound effects on how the latter's oedipal development progresses.

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