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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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Introduction (Sylvia Zwettler-Otte)

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19 Introduction Sylvia Zwettler-Otte It was a letter of Sigmund Freud to his fiancèe Martha that gave the idea to the papers in this book. In April 1885 Freud had fallen ill with an easy form of smallpox and had therefore been in quarantine. He longed for comfort of Martha, complained about this unproductive time, because he had done nothing the whole days but paged through a Russian history and tortured the two rabbits in the little room where they did nothing but eating carrots and dirtying the floor. Nevertheless he has some triumph to report on April 28th: “But there is one plan I have nearly completed, which a particular bunch of not yet born, but born to unhappiness people will regret! Since you won’t be able to guess who I mean, I’ll let you in on it right away: my biographers. I’ve destroyed all my notes from the last fourteen years, and letters, scientific outlines and manuscripts of my work. Of the letters, only family ones have been spared. Yours, darling, were never in danger. All the old friendships and relationships presented themselves to my mind once again and silently received the chop (my fantasy still lives in Russian his- tory); all my thoughts and feelings about the world in general, and especially about myself, were declared unworthy of survival. Now they need to be thought again, and I had written a lot. B u t t h i s s t u f f e n...

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