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Besdine, M. (1971). The Jocasta Complex, Mothering and Women Geniuses. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(1):51-74.

(1971). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(1):51-74

The Jocasta Complex, Mothering and Women Geniuses

Matthew Besdine

The study of the lives of geniuses offers a fertile field for psychoanalytic research because the primary data are present for all. They are not the sole experience of the analyst. In many instances the communications in letters, dreams, autobiographies, biographical data and projected creations in writing and the plastic arts are as comprehensive as the communications from a patient. In some cases even more data are available including the revelations of contemporaries. This is especially true of Michelangelo, the prototype of male genius and to a great extent, Isadora Duncan, whom I have selected as the prototype of female genius.

In selecting geniuses, one is on tenuous ground. They constitute a category of unique achievers who make a crucial break with the past and have a significant effect on the future. One is, in a sense, setting a standard and measuring achievement and influence. Time is frequently necessary to evaluate their true place. In the wide range between talent, gift and genius, and even within genius itself, which I see as a continuum, it is necessary to designate another category of extraordinary achievers who approach genius. Some of the greats fit into this latter category, for example: Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Pearl Buck, Violette LeDuc, and perhaps others.

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