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Brinich, P.M. (1995). Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Adoption and Ambivalence. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(2):181-199.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(2):181-199

Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Adoption and Ambivalence

Paul M. Brinich, Ph.D.

In this article, I examine childhood adoption from a psychoanalytic perspective and find that some particular elements of the psychopathology, which is sometimes associated with adoption, are simply special instances of some general phenomena that pertain to all parent–child relationships. History, mythology, and literature add to what we know from clinical work: All children and all parents, whether their relationships are adoptive or biological, must come to terms with warring feelings of love and hate toward one another. It is this ambivalence that lies at the center of the myth of Oedipus; although Freud chose to emphasize Oedipus's ambivalence toward his parents, the cycle began with Oedipus's parents. Parental ambivalence is an essential contributor to both the myth and the intrapsychic phenomena that are called oedipal, whether these are viewed from the perspective of (a) the drives and their vicissitudes, (b) the self- and object representations organized in enduring intrapsychic scenarios that are lived out in daily human relationships, or (c) the need to create and to maintain an enduring sense of self.

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