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Steiner, J. (1996). Revenge And Resentment In The ‘Oedipus Situation’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:433-443.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:433-443

Revenge And Resentment In The ‘Oedipus Situation’

John Steiner

The author considers an important form of ‘psychic retreat’ to be based on resentment and grievance. In this paper he discusses how resentments can build up and be nursed when the impulse to violence and in particular revenge is prevented from being expressed. The resentment leads to an impasse from which it is difficult for the analyst and patient to extricate themselves. A clinical example illustrating such an impasse is discussed. Then extracts from ‘Kidnapped’ by Robert Louis Stevenson are used to illustrate ways in which resentment can be relinquished and replaced with forgiveness. It is argued that the issue of revenge has to be negotiated before such a transformation can result.

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