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Williams, M.H. (1994). A Man of Achievement - Sophocles' Oedipus. Brit. J. Psychother., 11(2):232-241.

(1994). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 11(2):232-241

Literature and Psychoanalysis

A Man of Achievement - Sophocles' Oedipus

Meg Harris Williams

This paper traces the psychological implications of Sophocles' treatment of the Oedipus legend, in the light of Bion's concept of ‘catastrophic change’ and Keats's of ‘negative capability’. The first-written play, Antigone, concludes with the curse of revenge which falls when the mind-city fails to integrate conflicting emotions. The hero of Oedipus Tyrannos, however, overcomes the mindless pessimism which would deflect him from self-knowledge, by means of a necessary weaning process founded on memories of infancy. Finally, Oedipus at Colonus shows how mental beauty or poetry metamorphoses from the appearance of ugliness and makes ideas transmissible.

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