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Shapiro, T. (1977). Oedipal Distortions in Severe Character Pathologies Developmental and Theoretical Considerations. Psychoanal Q., 46:559-579.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 46:559-579

Oedipal Distortions in Severe Character Pathologies Developmental and Theoretical Considerations

Theodore Shapiro, M.D.


The oedipus complex is presented as a universal, developmentally determined mental organization that incorporates pregenital factors in a new hierarchic structure. Psychoanalysis with adults who have a variety of disorders, including severe character pathology, demonstrates the role of the oedipus complex and its variants as a dominant theme in these disorders. Recent trends in psychoanalytic theory are reviewed to facilitate our understanding of the newer metapsychological formulations that tend to de-emphasize oedipal constellations. Specific issues of changing emphasis in drive theory, ego organization, developmental levels of anxiety, and the separation-individuation process are considered.

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