OEDIPAL SHAME, REJECTION, AND ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT

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Abstract

The definition of oedipal shame, dramatized in Sophocles' tragedy, is the painful affect resulting from accepting the reality of one's origins. A clinical example focusing on shame arising from adoption links oedipal shame to the theme of rejection. Furthermore, in adolescence the revival of the oedipal conflict may reactivate oedipal shame in which unconscious idealized fantasies of personal perfection and the object carried over from childhood have to be renegotiated. This process, illustrated by two clinical vignettes, may reveal entrenched masochistic defenses. An examination of a final scene from a film underscores the significance of oedipal shame in clinical practice.

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