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Ikonen, P. (1986). On the Impact of the Oedipus Complex. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 9(2):145-159.

(1986). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 9(2):145-159

On the Impact of the Oedipus Complex

Pentti Ikonen, Phil. Mag.

It is a truism-though a very significant one-to say that all psychic material, or fragments of it, is open to various interpretations. This fact keeps coming up in all the discussions concerning interpretation. We base our work on this methodical principle, and it corresponds to our conception that psychic phenomena are both over-determined and ambiguous. It is in complete agreement with psychoanalytical thinking that in the same material, we encounter themes that are related to various libidinal developmental stages and directed to different objects, and themes of narcissistic, aggressive, etc., nature, interlinked with each other, covering or compensating each other, and so on. Additionally, in the same material, we find defences against these themes as well as defences against the defences, etc. We know that in the field of art, the more over-determined a work of art is, the more depth it has.

How, then, should we interpret everything that presents itself to us in the material? In what order? Which interpretations are the “correct” ones? Every school has its own well-motivated and individual opinions on these questions. We are, however, free to choose a standpoint that requires no statement on the differences of opinion between the schools or individual interpreters. Our common standpoint could thus be based on the agreement that interpretation in each separate case concerns those elements of the material that present themselves in derivative form. When the analyst allows the material in hand to linger in his mind, and reacts to it with his whole personality, the material begins to take on a new shape and form. He begins to find unconscious themes, impulses, defences, and modifications of them which he recognises as possible, probable or unavoidable in his own psyche.

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