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Bick, I.J. (1989). Aliens Among Us: a Representation of Children in Science Fiction. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 37:737-759.

(1989). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 37:737-759

Aliens Among Us: a Representation of Children in Science Fiction

Ilsa J. Bick, M.D.


As a literary genre, science fiction has been largely ignored by psychoanalysis. Science fiction lends itself well to analytic interpretations since its structure embraces an attitude of "cognitive estrangement" (a term that defines the genre). Science fiction allows for the exploration of new and different permutations of seemingly ageless conflicts and concerns. One of the conflicts science fiction seems to address revolves about our fears regarding our children. These children become the "aliens" among us, as they seek to usurp parental power and authority.

This issue is addressed through a study of two of Ray Bradbury's short stories. By manipulating the reader's experience of the "uncanny," Bradbury succeeds in tapping what appear to be prevalent and potent fears regarding children and, reflexively, the adults who produce them. Mechanisms involved in this play on "alienness" include projective identification of destructive aspects of the self, a resurgence of archaic superego forerunners constituted around primal scene material, and a reawakening of oedipal struggles.

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