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Davies, J.M. (2003). Falling in Love with Love: Oedipal and Postoedipal Manifestations of Idealization, Mourning, and Erotic Masochism. Psychoanal. Dial., 13(1):1-27.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 13(1):1-27

Falling in Love with Love: Oedipal and Postoedipal Manifestations of Idealization, Mourning, and Erotic Masochism

Jody Messler Davies, Ph.D.

The author, reconsidering the concept of the Oedipus complex, attempts to reestablish its significance as a major developmental milestone, while at the same time disentangling it from any linear assumptions regarding sexual orientation or object choice. A postoedipal phase of development is suggested in which the emphasis on romantic perfection and idealization of the love object, endemic to oedipal processes, is transformed and intimacy and mutual psychic and emotional interpenetrability become the defining features. Oedipal and postoedipal forms of romantic relatedness are always viewed as functioning dialectically, in mutually enriching and invigorating synergy. Specific transference-countertransference manifestations of the transition from primarily oedipal to primarily postoedipal forms of engagement are considered, with special attention given to the notion of “oedipal victors” and “oedipal losers.” Aspects of erotic masochism related to this transitional phase of development are also discussed. A lengthy case example of an erotic impasse between a female analyst and a female patient is offered as an illustration of some of these concepts.

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