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Kursh, C.O. (1968). Heracles and the Centaur. Psychoanal. Rev., 55(3):387-399.

(1968). Psychoanalytic Review, 55(3):387-399

Symbolic Logics

Heracles and the Centaur

Charlotte Olmsted Kursh

This paper is part of a larger study of mythological monsters, conceived of as a way of symbolizing symbiotic role relationships. According to our hypothesis, each such monster represents the interaction of at least two roles that are so thoroughly intertwined that it becomes all but impossible to fix the lines of influence among them and to define the boundaries of their involvements neatly, in terms of causes, effects, purposes, needs and so on. For the same reasons it hardly seems profitable to seek to probe the details in the actual order of processes which has the monsters as its issue. The monsters represent a new sort of outcome, a new sort of complex— one which must be dealt with as a configuration— by the participants themselves no less than by outsiders.

In short, the explanations of a symbolized role relationship to be illustrated in these pages have a different ring from the usual Freudian models. A Freudian complex ordinarily is an inside account of such a relationship from the point of view of one of the participants. Thus, in the usual Freudian account, the mother's side of the Oedipus saga is slighted as a central point of reference. The mythical monster forms we shall discuss here present the patterns of relationships in wider scope. The problems and perspectives of both parties and, indeed, the problems and perspectives of others not immediately implicated in the situation find their resolutions in the constellated symbol of the monsters.

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