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Stewart, H. (1961). Jocasta's Crimes. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 42:424-430.

(1961). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 42:424-430

Jocasta's Crimes

Harold Stewart

Since the early days of psycho-analysis when Freud first used the Oedipus myth to illustrate his clinical findings, the theme has been taken up by many writers in the development of the young science. The earlier writers devoted their attention to Oedipus, but more recently the other protagonists in the triangle have been brought into the limelight. Devereux (1) examines the role of Laius and links it with his homosexuality, which, though not described in the play by Sophocles, is manifest in accounts of the Greek myth. Kanzer (6) in his analysis of the Oedipus trilogy of plays sees Jocasta as a potential pre-oedipal 'bad mother' in the eyes of her son. This concept of the mother being an object of the son's hostility is developed further by van der Sterren (10). To quote from his paper: 'It may be interesting to enquire what motives are given in Sophocles' drama for the son's hostility towards his mother. In the first place there is the sadistic element of the sexual passion; then there is the fact that Jocasta and Merope forbid him to think about his origin, and therein we find the fact that the mother does not allow her little son to satisfy his oedipal desires. Indeed she helps father to restrict and punish her son, and sends him away from her presence. And this reproach assumes a pre-oedipal character—"even on the third day of my life my mother cast me off" (oral frustration). Finally it is clear that Oedipus is hostile towards his mother and that he even desires her death because her seductive powers bring him into danger of punishment and guilty conscience.

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