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Wrottesley, C. (2017). Does Oedipus Never Die? The Grandparental Couple Grapple with “Oedipus”. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 7(2):188-207.

(2017). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 7(2):188-207

Does Oedipus Never Die? The Grandparental Couple Grapple with “Oedipus”

Catriona Wrottesley, M.A.

This paper offers thoughts about the grandparental couple relationship, viewed through a British object relations lens. Following from Dicks’s perception of the “joint marital personality(Dicks, 1967), it argues for the importance of attending to the grandparental couple relationship as “single object” (Frisch & Frisch Desmarez, 2010, p. 325): the quality of the affective link between this couple, and of the link they form with the younger parental couple and grandchildren play an important part in the well-being of the entire family and of subsequent generations. The internal parental couple object is examined as a vehicle of transgenerational transmission of couple dynamics, and illustrations of how “ghost” couples from previous generations make their presence felt, are given. As the paper’s title seeks to convey, our struggle with oedipal issues persists throughout life and these issues never die. The oedipal situation comes to the fore transgenerationally with the birth of the first grandchild. Oedipal anxieties are stirred, to be engaged with or avoided. This paper maintains that becoming a grandparental couple is ideally an active, conscious, and ongoing process. The concept of “transageing” (Moglen, 2008) is drawn on to argue that the grandparental couple’s relationship may be enriched if they are able to reconnect internally with earlier experiences in life, as a couple, and as individuals.

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