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Palmer, A.J. (1988). Heidi's Metaphoric Appeal to Latency—A Journey Through the Oedipus Complex. Psychoanal. St. Child, 43:387-397.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 43:387-397

Applied Psychoanalysis

Heidi's Metaphoric Appeal to Latency—A Journey Through the Oedipus Complex

Allen J. Palmer, M.D.

HEIDI, A CHILDREN'S STORY WRITTEN BY JOHANNA SPYRI AND PUBLISHED in 1880, has endured in popularity for over 100 years and has been a favorite of latency-aged and preadolescent girls. Heidi contains the universal themes of loss and restitution, separation and reunion, a family romance fantasy, derivative expression of preoedipal and oedipal conflicts, and the resolution of infantile conflicts with concomitant developmental progression. This paper will demonstrate how Heidi's preoedipal and oedipal themes appeal to the latency-aged girl reader. The novel's metaphoric appeal will be explored from the standpoint of the concordance of the latency-aged reader's unconscious developmental and dynamic conflicts and the narrative's explication of the same in, more or less, disguised form.


With ego development and cognitive expansion in latency, the child establishes the capacity to read.

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