The Oedipal Conflict as a Psychic Organizer

  • Roy M. Mendelsohn


Throughout the history of psychoanalysis, the oedipal conflict has occupied a central position in a metapsychology devoted to the understanding of psychic processes and mental events. The oedipal conflict has also been a focus of disagreements and of causing differing psychoanalytic schools of thought to split off from the main body of classical psychoanalytic metapsychology. Although other factors may have been involved, the disagreements were based upon clinical observations and the manner in which they were understood. For example, Kleinian psychology portrayed the oedipal conflict as being manifested in the earliest stages of an individual’s life history. This concept raised much controversy. The basic argument revolved around whether a young infant could have the mental capacity to effect the complex symbolic and representational tasks that are embodied in an oedipal conflict. There is no question that, in primitively organized patients of all ages, there are highly defended mental impressions of an object’s possessing instinctual qualities. This same mental impression of an instinctual object is also present in the very early stages of development. However, the meaning attributed to this observation is another matter, as is the task of reconciling this observation with the complex processes involved in an oedipal conflict. In addition, there are some patients whose early development has been profoundly disturbed, in which there is little or no indication of an oedipal conflict.


External Object Sensory Deprivation Structure Pathway Selective Identification Perceptual Contact 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roy M. Mendelsohn
    • 1
  1. 1.St. LouisUSA

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