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Mahon, E.J. (2013). Mourning, Dreaming, and the Discovery of the Oedipus Complex. Psychoanal Q., 82(4):877-895.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 82(4):877-895

Mourning, Dreaming, and the Discovery of the Oedipus Complex

Eugene J. Mahon

The author argues that the structure of mourning and the structure of the Oedipus complex are triadic, the latter being obvious and easy to conceptualize, while the former is quite subtle. When it is the father who is mourned, the son must repeatedly invoke the dead object so that libidinal cathexis can be reinvested in living objects. Such was the situation in which Freud found himself in 1896 when his father died—the triadic nature of the Oedipus complex ironically not yet discovered by him. In the author's belief, Freud's mourning and his attendant rich dream life occurring between 1896 and 1897 gave him access to the unconscious raw material that would eventually help him conceptualize the triadic structure at the instinctual core of the Oedipus complex.

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