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Hornstra, L. (1966). The Antecedents of the Negative Oedipus Complex. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:531-538.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:531-538

The Antecedents of the Negative Oedipus Complex

L. Hornstra

In practice, we tend to regard psycho-analysis primarily as a peeling off of layers, and the manifest (post-oedipal) behaviour as a defence against the oedipal conflict situation. To achieve this post-oedipal defence, intensive use is made of pre-oedipal forms. This sounds simple and conclusive, but it is not entirely correct. The defence is directed in the first place not against the oedipal wishes but against the fear they engender, fear of castration, or equivalent anxieties. Why is this fear considered to be always greatest in the oedipal situation? This has never been acceptably explained.

Viewed from adulthood back to the time of his birth, the first phase of the patient's life encountered, i.e. the last, is clearly defined. In this context, much of the post-oedipal behaviour can be seen as a defence against fears associated with oedipal wishes. But who can guarantee that this is the central conflict in this patient's neurosis? The most important defence against the fear induced by the Oedipus situation is the formation of the so-called negative Oedipus complex. But we also know that for this defence, use is made of the pre-oedipal forms. This is self-evident, because when at this point the child is unable to cope with the new situation he cannot omit an intervening period; he will retreat and draw on his experience, which means his past.

If we pose the question of whether the negative Oedipus complex, which is a defence against the positive Oedipus complex, is a completely new form or a regression to a previous (i.

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