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Lament, C. (2014). The Transformation of Achilles in The Iliad: A Reading from the Views of Sibling Narratives and Nonlinear Growth. Psychoanal. St. Child, 68:251-263.

(2014). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 68:251-263

Applied Psychoanalysis

The Transformation of Achilles in The Iliad: A Reading from the Views of Sibling Narratives and Nonlinear Growth

Claudia Lament, Ph.D.

I wish to showcase the importance of plasticity of narrative in fantasy formations, as exemplified in Achilles' psychological trajectory in The Iliad. Applying conceptual formulations concerning the psychoanalytic developmental process to Achilles' growth piques my reflections about the sibling experience and its unique position in the mental life of children and adolescents. With developmental advance and the capacity for measured fluidity of self and other structures, the original sibling experience—whether it be tilted toward aggressiveness or toward loving concern or a place in between—may acquire new meanings.

By locating it within this contextual framework, Achilles' story line can be seen as a metaphorical description of the continuous and discontinuous patterns in growth. This poses intriguing questions: What contexts are useful in pondering Achilles' psychological shifts? Might the domain of disposition prove useful? Is birth order another? Is his gradual empathic concern for the enemy a demonstration of an elasticity of imaginative capacity that reassembles murderous potential? Child and adult analysts alike may find a rich trove in Homer's masterpiece for contemplating potential sources within their patients that spur forward movement.

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