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Dobson, M.W. (2007). Freud, Kohut, Sophocles: Did Oedipus do Wrong?. Int. J. Psychoanal. Self Psychol., 2(1):53-76.

(2007). International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, 2(1):53-76

Freud, Kohut, Sophocles: Did Oedipus do Wrong?

Marcia W. Dunbar-Soule Dobson, Ph.D.

In The Restoration of the Self, Heinz Kohut (1977) claimed to have a fuller understanding of the Oedipus complex than does Freud. In his discussion, he supplemented Freud's notion of “Guilty Man.” Guilty Man directs his life energy toward the activity of the drives; Tragic Man directs his life energy toward the fulfillment of the self. Kohut's formulation adds a depth of complexity that one finds missing in Freud's sexualizing of Oedipus. A fresh look at Sophocles' Oedipus cycle, emphasizing the necessary integrity of Oedipus Tyrannos with Oedipus Coloneus, confirms Sophocles' Oedipus to be more conducive to a Kohutian than to a Freudian reading. Oedipus' development throughout the dramas is interpreted in both Kohutian and Sophoclean terms, and Oedipus' apotheosis at the end of the Oedipus Coloneus is conceived in self-psychological terms as what it means to be fully human.

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