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Shapira-Berman, O. (2019). Has Oedipus Murdered His Parents? Distinguishing between “Killing” and “Murdering” One's Parent as Promoting Psychic Growth versus Melancholia. Psychoanal. Rev., 106(5):417-438.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Review, 106(5):417-438

Has Oedipus Murdered His Parents? Distinguishing between “Killing” and “Murdering” One's Parent as Promoting Psychic Growth versus Melancholia

Ofrit Shapira-Berman, Ph.D.

Most analysts who write about the Oedipus complex, including Loewald and Ogden, do not seem to differentiate between the oedipal “killing” as opposed to murdering one's parent. Life, and especially growing up, entail more than one act of “killing,” on both the child's and the parents' sides. If there is a benign resolution to the oedipal conflict, then this is a “soft” killing, which acts on behalf of life, or at least can be experienced as an inevitable part of it. Under less favorable circumstances, such as excessive deprivation, oedipal parricide amounts to a murderous act against one's parent, which will not result in psychic growth, but in melancholia and other psychic disturbances. This difference will be discussed in light of Loewald's and Ogden's reconceptualization of the Oedipus complex and Fairbairn's conception of the basic trauma of the infant/child, in relation to the mother's rejection of his or her love.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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