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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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Figure 1: Man-buffalo, Chauvet Cave, 32000 BP © Yanik Le Guillou Figure 2: Scene of the well, Lascaux cave, 17000 BP © A. Glory Figure 3: Martha Bernays and Sigmund Freud 1885, in G. Henning: Sigmund Freud – Eine Bildbiographie, Köln: Taschen Verlag Figure 4: Freud-medal, photo by S.Zwettler-Otte Figure 5: Vienna, University, Arcades, photo by H. Wolfgruber Figure 6: University-Arcades, corner with Freud’s bust, photo by H. Wolfgruber Figure 7: Arcades, Freud’s bust, photo by S. Zwettler-Otte Figure 8: Greek inscription on Freud’s bust, photo by S. Zwettler-Otte Figure 9: Sphinx from Freud’s collection, photo in: Gamwell + Wells 1989 Figure 10: Greek winged Sphinx, photo from: Demisch 1977 Figure 11: Oedipus killing the sphinx by club, photo from: Demisch 1977 Figure 12: Oedipus before the Sphinx (Greek vase), photo from: Demisch 1977 Figure 13: Khnopff, Fernand: Oedipus and the Sphinx, photo from: Symbolismus, Köln: Taschen-Verlag 2011 Figure 14: Sphinx-Collage by Clarence Sinclair Bull, 1931, in: Greta Garbo – Das private Album, hrsg. Scott Reisfield, Robert Dance, Berlin: Hen- schel Verlag 2005

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