The Oedipus Complex Today: Clinical Implications
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A collection of papers focusing on the Kleinian conception of the Oedipus complex, how this is now understood, and what effect it has had on clinical practice.
The papers by Ronald Britton, Michael Feldman and Edna O'Shaughnessy which form the greater part of The Oedipus Complex Today were originally given at the Melanie Klein Conference on the Oedipus Complex in September 1987 at University College, London. The conference, jointly organized by Professor J. Sandler of the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College and Mrs. Ruth Riesenberg-Malcolm on behalf of the Melanie Klein Trust, was considered such a successful statement of modern Kleinian views on the subject that the Trust has decided to present the papers in book form, together with an expanded version of the introduction by Dr Hanna Segal, and also a reprint of Melanie Klein's 1945 paper 'The Oedipus Complex in the Light of Early Anxieties'.
The three papers, writes Dr Segal, 'are based on central concepts first put forward by Mrs Klein. They show, however a considerable development and elaboration of her basic ideas. For instance, though Mrs Klein established the existence of primitive and psychotic forms of the Oedipus Complex, the chapters presented show how much work has been done in studying those early phenomena clinically. They also show a considerable advance in understanding the effect of those early processes and phantasies on such mental functions as perception and thinking.
'All the chapters are also concerned with technique, and it is in this area that developments since Mrs Klein are possibly most striking. They are concerned with the effect of primitive acting in the psychoanalytic session. They describe the constant pressure on the analyst to play a role in the primitive Oedipal drama and the potentially disruptive effects on the analyst's own thinking. In psychoanalysis, theory and technique are closely interrelated. It is the clinical and technical challenge that leads the psychoanalyst to modify and refine his theoretical framework, and this is the way psychoanalytic theory grows. I think the chapters presented here are evidence of the continuing vitality and development of Freud's and Klein's ideas.'
About the Author(s)
Ronald Britton is a well-known international psychoanalytic writer who has lectured widely in Europe and North and South America. He is a former President of the British Psychoanalytical Society and a Vice-President of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA). He has a predominantly clinical approach but also a special interest in the relationship of psychoanalysis to literature, philosophy and theology. He was given the IPA Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement in 2013 and the Sigourney Award for Outstanding Psychoanalytic Contributions in 2014.
Edna O'Shaughnessy came to psychoanalysis from philosophy, first training as a Child Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic in the 1950s. In the 1960s she trained at the British Psychoanalytical Society of which she is a training and supervising analyst and also a child analyst. Her many published papers are written from both a clinical and a conceptual perspective.
Michael Feldman studied psychology and medicine, and worked for many years in the Psychotherapy Unit at the Maudsley in London. He is now a training analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society and lectures and supervises clinical work in several centres in Europe and the USA. He has published numerous psychoanalytical papers, and has co-edited, with Elizabeth Spillius, Psychic Equilibrium and Psychic Change: Selected Papers of Betty Joseph
John Steiner is a training analyst of the British Psychoanalytical Society and works in private practice as a psychoanalyst. He is the author and editor of several psychoanalytic papers and books.
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