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Wilson, E., Jr. (1986). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLV, 1981: The Oedipal Conflict, Its Outlines and Its Role in the Development of Psychic Functions. Eulalià Torras de Beà Pp. 679–766.. Psychoanal Q., 55:697-698.

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Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLV, 1981: The Oedipal Conflict, Its Outlines and Its Role in the Development of Psychic Functions. Eulalià Torras de Beà Pp. 679–766.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:697-698

Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLV, 1981: The Oedipal Conflict, Its Outlines and Its Role in the Development of Psychic Functions. Eulalià Torras de Beà Pp. 679–766.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

Freud's view of the oedipal conflict as the cornerstone of psychic development is currently being questioned because we now recognize patients who present with seemingly oedipal conflicts, but whose anxieties and defenses are more primitive than those usually associated with oedipal organization. Some authors suggest that the oedipal conflict is merely an option, which an individual may or may not enter. Many analysts have found it too narrow to be the basis of development. Some merely cite the oedipal conflict while the reasons for its importance are only assumed. Mme. De Beà considers it basic, but dates its commencement back to the beginning of life when self-object differentiation is developing. The infant perceives its life as a relationship with two objects, one good and one bad. An extreme splitting characterizes these primitive libidinal and aggressive impulses. There are pregenital anxieties and the fear of castration, as in the fear of being destroyed or annihilated. This primitive conflict is the basis, Mme. de Beà argues, for all subsequent conflict. There is continuity between primitive oedipal conflict with its schizo-paranoid character and the more evolved oedipal conflict with advanced defenses


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and integrated character structure. The later type of oedipal conflict may show stable and definite formations, or the evolution may involve less stable forms. From these primitive differentiations, the oedipal conflict evolves toward higher levels, including the level of being able to differentiate between the sexes. Sexual differentiation in its wider sense is involved from the very beginning of the oedipal conflict and is linked to oral and alimentary desires and their satisfaction. Genital excitation and gratification occur extremely early in infants. The author discusses symbol formation, internal or external reality, and the mental representation of the latter (the symbol). Each oedipal level involves the external parental objects and also the internal objects as their representations, whether pleasant or unpleasant. The development of psychic functions or their distortion is thus dependent upon oedipal conflict. When this triangular relationship has very primitive characteristics, the result is not a symbol but a symbolic equation. The complete symbol in the verbalized form the patient achieves in analysis permits recovery of the correct articulations between mental contents and the establishment of true mental representations of internal and external reality. Thus, Mme. de Beà believes we can accord to the oedipal conflict all the importance that has so long been attributed to it: it is the model for all human conflict.


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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1986). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLV, 1981. Psychoanal. Q., 55:697-698

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WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.