Oedipuskomplekset (The Oedipus Complex): Ole Andkjær Olsen. Copenhagen: H. Reitzel, 1988. 520 pp.
Review by: Martin Lotz
Olsen is an M. A. in literary history. He has previously (with S. Køppe) written a book on Freud's psychoanalysis, now appearing in an English translation (IUP).
The present work is the first Danish doctoral dissertation with its main emphasis on a psychoanalytical theme. It aims at describing the oedipus complex not as a strict psychoanalytical idea, but rather as a theoretical structure with operational value for several scientific areas: ethnology, sociology, semiology and psychoanalysis.
In the first 300 pages, Olsen reviews the relevant literature and then suggests that the traditional triangle: child, mother and father be replaced by a more abstract triad: the subject, the direct object and the symbolicobject. Instead of the differences between sexes and generations, he stresses the active/passive polarity. The principle thus structured, he says, will be the basis for the final analysis instead of the private intrapsychical conflicts and object relations stemming from the interpersonal constellations in the family.
The last 150 pages of the book are not very easy to evaluate. Here, Olsen is working on a very high metapsychological theoretical level. His point of departure distances him from clinically employed psychoanalysts, where the private psychological sphere is at the center of understanding and interpretation. One might say that psychoanalysts would not be interested in the elaboration of such abstract ideas. On the other hand, Olsen has a right to claim that a theoretical concept like the oedipus complex might be generalized, not into any superimposed, unchangeable axiomatic idea, but to an agreed upon pragmatic but still central theoretical structure, useful for studies encompassing more than one area of science.
[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]