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The Sphinx and the Riddles of Passion, Love and Sexuality

Contributions by Stefano Bolognini, Rainer Gross and Sylvia Zwettler-Otte- Preface by Alain Gibeault

Edited By Sylvia Zwettler-Otte

An international cooperation of psychoanalysts presents the role of symbolization in the development of the human mind. Based on Freud’s theory of the Unconscious and of infantile sexuality we have now a deeper understanding of myths like Oedipus and the Sphinx and the representations of human struggles in art. In this book, this is illustrated from prehistoric paintings until poetry of the 20th century. The Sphinx, half animal, half human, represents the elaborations of sexual fantasies revealing desires and fears. She symbolizes an archaic maternal imago, seductive and threatening, omnipotent and enigmatic. She is a symbol of contradictions like drive and reason or gain and loss of knowledge. Case stories show that patients today feel not «devoured by the Sphinx», but by their work («burn out»), by annihilation anxiety, narcissistic or borderline disturbances, psychosomatic problems etc. But the «archaic mother never dies».

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Acknowledgements ............................................................................................... 5 Preface Alain Gibeault ..................................................................................................... 11 Introduction Sylvia Zwettler-Otte ............................................................................................ 19 The “countertransferenceless” Sphinx: the narcissistic myth of impenetrability Stefano Bolognini ................................................................................................ 31 The Sphinx as Oedipus' other Mother Rainer Gross ....................................................................................................... 39 Freud’s selection of “Oedipus material” .................................................. 41 Attempts at psychoanalytical interpretation ............................................ 51 Images of the Sphinx in art ...................................................................... 55 Three balancing acts of the Sphinx Sylvia Zwettler-Otte ............................................................................................ 63 Can we solve the riddle of sexual love without killing the Sphinx? ........ 63 Lost Steps? – Avoidance versus use of the death drive concept .............. 73 Sketches in the Patient’s Magic Drawing Book ...................................... 87 About the authors .............................................................................................. 103 Figures .............................................................................................................. 105 9 Fig. 1: Chauvet cave

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