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Feder, L. (1974). Adoption Trauma: Oedipus Myth/clinical Reality. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 55:491-493.

(1974). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 55:491-493

Adoption Trauma: Oedipus Myth/clinical Reality

Luis Feder

The manifest Oedipus myth is the case history of an adopted child. The ubiquity of both myth and complex is associated with Freud's concept of the 'family romance' (1909). The adoption trauma as a concept, as a syndrome and a universal trend follows the clinical sequence tabulated below. It is identical with Rank's 'average myth' (cf. Freud, 1939) and with the Oedipus myth. The 200 cases (see note at the end of this paper) which form the basis for this paper follow the same typical pattern. The traumatic vicissitudes of adoption as outlined here, attempt to integrate (from the points of view of both time sequence and psychological significance) previously neglected, earlier psychogenic components (Feder, 1965a), (1965b), (Calef, 1968).


i. Ambivalent, conflictual preconceptive coupling, leading to

ii. unwanted pregnancy, which causes

iii. somatization, abortions (fantasied as well as attempted but frustrated), causing in turn

iv. traumatic birth, resulting from the attitudes of a rejecting, filicidal, foeticidal mother. The traumatic impact of this on the child and of the mother's attitudes and subsequent abandonment of the child, leads to

v. an adoption agent (or agency) 'romance' which is seldom professional, particularly because of unavailable diagnostic criteria. This often reinforces scotomata towards adoptive motivations, leading to

vi. adoptive parents whose profound motivations are unknown. These motivations fluctuate 'pregnancy induction', 'sterility reparation', 'guilty-submissive' in content.

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