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Wilson, E., Jr. (1984). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIV, 1980: Oedipus in the Circus. Michel Soule. Pp. 99-125.. Psychoanal Q., 53:643.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIV, 1980: Oedipus in the Circus. Michel Soule. Pp. 99-125.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:643

Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIV, 1980: Oedipus in the Circus. Michel Soule. Pp. 99-125.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

Soule offers an amusing and fascinating study of the circus, especially the circus clowns and their effects on latency age children, their parents, and their grandparents. He discerns several unconscious themes. There is the aspect of the development of a transitional space, a space of games, play, and make-believe. The circus performers appear to abolish gravity (jugglers and acrobats). Dwarfs abound, indicating that one's small size does not matter. Fierce and terrifying animals behave docilely. Elephants and horses perform their physiological functions in front of everybody. Domestic animals are made laughable. The duo clown team, in France known as Auguste and the White Clown, articulate many things that the child had long thought about his conflicts. The author examines the pleasure that each of the three generations might seem to find in the clown duo. Auguste is infantile, without repression, and with obvious polymorphous perverse traits. The White Clown represents parental authority, confusions about the parental couple, and the expression of anal sadism as well as narcissistic completeness. The audience to which the clown act appeals is especially the latency age child. Before that age the child is afraid, while after the age of eleven or twelve he is no longer interested. The spectacle is thus especially appealing to the child who sees in it his struggle with his instinctual world and his environment. Each generation experiences and discharges its own conflicts in the humor of the clowns.

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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1984). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIV, 1980. Psychoanal. Q., 53:643

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