IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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Hamlet’s tragedy allows Freud to refer to the repressed aspect of the Oedipus complex, whereas Sophocles’ tragedy alludes to yet another element, to what has been dissolved, buried, ( Untergang ) but is displayed in the way events develop for the tragic Oedipus. Both aspects are experienced in transference with the person of the analyst through symptoms, dreams, and ‘actual’ manifestations within the scene of transference. Typical dreams of the death of beloved persons and anxiety dreams, where censure is overpowered, constitute paradigmatic examples of the presence of tragedy. Nightmares in particular indicate that the dream mechanisms have failed in their function of preserving sleep and that the tragic contents have burst into consciousness and interrupted sleep. In the scene of transference resistance takes advantage of the presence of tragic contents to interrupt the analytic task. Freud considers that actual feelings are a consequence of tragic contents bursting into consciousness and, therefore, when we encounter the incestuous killer we all carry deep within, feelings of horror and self-punishing behavior tend to appear. In consequence, throughout an analytic treatment, within the transference, we will face contents stemming from the conflict between desire and prohibition, and also actual manifestations that come from what has been dissolved. By the time the phase of the Oedipus complex is over, part of it is repressed and part becomes buried. However, in neurotic patients none of these processes have been entirely successful: symptoms and other occurrences where the buried aspects (that is, incestuous and parricidal instinctual impulses) become manifest, tend to appear. The more serious the condition, the greater presence dissolved elements usually have. These are the two aspects of transference: that of the repressed, with symptoms typical of transference neurosis, and that of tragedy, in turn brought about by the compulsion to repeat. At the core of the complex that each individual has experienced with his quota of love and hate, but limited by the establishment of prohibitions, tragedy can be found, the matrix of which is part of the human essence and is revived by each and every child in his period of omnipotence. Freud establishes the relationship between the Oedipal tragedy and the Hamlet character drama, and settles the basis of a theory, which would center around the repetition compulsion, which he would soon denominate the resistance of the id, reigned by the death drive, a concept whose inclusion implicates an important turn in the theory. This compulsion to discharge --destruction drive-- remains latent during the treatment and will then occupy the transferential scene with the maximum resistance. The analyst perceives an active resistance from the unconscious ego against dealing with the repressed, resistance, which the conscious ego disowns. The repressed is segregated from the ego by the resistances of repression, but can be communicated to the ego through the id. “The Ego and the Id” (1923), read alongside “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (1920) contextualizes the ego as the representative (Repräsentanten) of reason and prudence, while the passions (drives) prevail in the id, and are capable of breaking through its borders.

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