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Charles, M. (2004). Ædipal Paradigms in Collision: A Centennial Emendation of a Piece of Freudian Canon (1897-1997). By Howard H. Covitz. New York: Peter Lang, 1997, 385 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 91(5):711-714.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Review, 91(5):711-714

Ædipal Paradigms in Collision: A Centennial Emendation of a Piece of Freudian Canon (1897-1997). By Howard H. Covitz. New York: Peter Lang, 1997, 385 pp.

Review by:
Marilyn Charles, Ph.D.

In this scholarly volume, Covitz invites us into a dialogue regarding the complexities of the ffidipus Complex. This is one of those terms that we believe we understand and yet, on taking a closer look, we note how easily we move into shorthand presumptions without really thinking through the matter at hand. In Ædipal Paradigms in Collision, we are invited to journey alongside Covitz as he considers the complexities of history, discourse, and phenomenology in which this construct is embedded.

This is not a book to hurry through, but rather one to savor. The text is speckled with notes that contextualize both the term Ædipal Paradigm and Covitz's understanding of it. The interplay between text and footnote also becomes a dialogue between Covitz and the reader, through which we begin to form a relationship with this highly reflective thinker who is finding his own way through these complexities.

As we continue on this journey, we are increasingly comfortable in our reliance on our guide, who emerges as a thoughtful, respectful, and discerning commentator on this field of inquiry. Covitz posits “Vorstellungen”-the mental images Freud describes-as the “building blocks of experience” (p. 90). In this way, Covitz highlights the visual elements of our conceptualizations as the fundamental units of meaning. It is this primacy of the visual element that holds or “marks” (Charles, 2004a) the meaning that enables us to utilize these elements to build more complex meanings.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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