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Klein, M. (1945). The Oedipus Complex in the Light of Early Anxieties. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 26:11-33.

(1945). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 26:11-33

The Oedipus Complex in the Light of Early Anxieties

Melanie Klein


I have two main objectives in presenting this paper. I intend to single out some typical early anxiety situations and show their connection with the Oedipus complex. Since these anxieties and defences are part of the infantile depressive position as I see it, I hope to throw some light on the relation between the depressive position and libidinal development. My second purpose is to compare my conclusions about the Oedipus complex with Freud's views on that subject.

I shall exemplify my argument by short extracts from two case histories. Many more details could be adduced about both analyses, about the patients' family relationships and about the technique used. I shall, however, confine myself to those details of the material which are most essential from the point of view of my subject-matter.

The children whose case histories I shall use to illustrate my argument were both suffering from severe emotional difficulties. In making use of such material as a basis for my conclusions about the normal course of the Oedipus development, I am following a method well tried in psycho-analysis. Freud justified this angle of approach in many of his writings. For instance (1932; 155), he says: 'Pathology, as you know, has always assisted us, by isolation and exaggeration, in making recognizable things which would normally remain hidden.'


The material on which I shall draw to illustrate my views about the boy's Oedipus development is taken from the analysis of a boy of ten.

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