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Britton, R. Chused, J. Ellman, S. Likierman, M. (2006). Panel II: The Oedipus Complex, the Primal Scene, and the Superego. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 5(3):282-307.
(2006). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 5(3):282-307
Panel II: The Oedipus Complex, the Primal Scene, and the Superego
Ron Britton, Judy Chused, Steve Ellman and Meira Likierman
Moderated by: Carolyn Ellman and Laurence Gould
Question 1: The idea of the Oedipus complex is central to both Freudians and Kleinians. Yet it is as if they are talking about quite different concepts with different stages of development implicated. These different theories also place the processing or representation of the primal scene along a different developmental timetable. We have asked the panelists to talk about the timing of Oedipus, the role of the parental couple, and how the parental couple as a concept relates to the superego, if at all.
The idea of the Oedipus complex is not as central to this Freudian as it is to some other Freudians. Let me begin by quoting Freud from a central work—and central is the key word here—his paper “On Narcissism.” He says, “I find it quite impossible to place the genesis of neurosis upon the narrow basis of the castration complex, however powerfully it may come to the fore in men … Incidentally, I know of cases in which the ‘masculine protest,’ or, as we regard it, the castration complex, plays no pathogenic part, and even fails to appear at all.” Freud wrote this (as a note to Adler) at a time when he was most active clinically.
One must remember that Freud initially was thinking of the Oedipal complex as part of the development of mature sexuality. It was not primarily a childhood phenomenon, but rather part of the initiation of the sexual instinct (or, as he wrote, the instinct of survival of the species). Thus, at that time (1905-1907), the Oedipal drama signaled the full efflorescence of the sexual instinct.
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