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Chused, J.F. (1991). Son and Father: Before and Beyond the Oedipus Complex: By Peter Blos. New York: Free Press, 1985, 186 pp., $24.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:817-822.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:817-822

Son and Father: Before and Beyond the Oedipus Complex: By Peter Blos. New York: Free Press, 1985, 186 pp., $24.95.

Review by:
Judith Fingert Chused, M.D.

Blos has combined a careful presentation of his theories of male psychic development with a thought-provoking study in applied analysis. This is a beautifully written book and a genuine pleasure to read. One cannot help but admire Blos's precise and cogent reasoning and his elegantly integrated theory, even while disagreeing with some of his conclusions.

This book successfully demonstrates the importance of the dyadic attachment between father and son for psychic development as well as the interaction of preoedipal and oedipal (dyadic and triadic) experiences in the emergence and resolution of adolescent conflict. Emphasizing that "[by] a stage in the sequential order of progressive development, we mean a preferential trend rather than an exclusive presence …" (p. 5) and that "the principle of causality is secondary to that of overdetermination" (p. 6), Blos makes the important point that the depiction of the oedipal father as "the restraining and punishing father under whose threat of retaliation the little boy abandons his competitive strivings, as well as his patricidal and incestuous animus" is an oversimplification omitting the importance of "the early experience of being protected by a strong father and caringly loved by him …" (p. 10). Blos believes that much of the psychic experience of the adolescent male that had been attributed to the revival of the oedipal father is related instead to the father imago of the dyadic period (p. 24).

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