Intersubjectivity and the internalized Oedipal couple
In the evolution of our understanding of the analytic interaction from a one-person to a two-person psychology and from there to an intersubjective perspective, some concepts that have been foundational to psychoanalysis have been left by the wayside. I have been attempting to demonstrate that many of the basic precepts of intersubjectivity have been nascent in our ﬁeld from Freud’s early contributions onward and that these ideas have not suddenly sprung into existence, like Athena from Zeus’ head. However, perhaps because each generation of analysts needs to establish its independence from its parents, those previous viewpoints are seen as outmoded (Kancyper, 2005). The Oedipal situation, once considered by Freud (1910a) to be the “nuclear complex” of development, has waned (Loewald, 1980) in the importance once accorded to it, even among classically oriented analysts. However, in recent years the relevance of “the third” (Aron, 1995, 2006; Benjamin, 2004; Britton, 1989, 1998, 2004; Brown, 2002, 2004; Ogden, 1994a, 1997a, 2005) to intersubjective phenomena has been explored, thus reawakening interest in the triangular aspects of Oedipal dynamics.2 We will now brieﬂy review Freud’s and Klein’s ideas on this subject in order to understand more fully the contemporary applications of “thirdness” to intersubjectivity.