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Rusbridger, R. (2004). Elements of the Oedipus complex: A Kleinian account. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(3):731-747.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(3):731-747

Elements of the Oedipus complex: A Kleinian account

Richard Rusbridger

The author discusses and illustrates the place in current Kleinian practice of the analysis of the Oedipus complex. He outlines the development of the concept of the Oedipus complex by Freud and by Klein and later writers in the Kleinian tradition. Because the child's exclusion from his parents' sexual relationship represents such a fundamental aspect of reality for the child, analysis of the patient's responses to the oedipal situation constitutes the central task of analysis. Despite the Oedipus complex being in this way central, it is sometimes hard to discern because what is most visible are the patient's defensive responses to the oedipal situation. The emergence of meaning in analysis is often understood unconsciously as the product of the parental intercourse, represented by the work of the patient with the analyst, or of the analyst's or the patient's mind. The analysis of the patient's characteristic reactions to moments of meaningfulness in analysis is therefore an especially fruitful focus for the analysis of the Oedipus complex. The author illustrates these ideas by three clinical examples, from a 3½-year-old child, a borderline psychotic patient and a more neurotic patient.

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