A collection of papers focusing on the Kleinian conception of the Oedipus complex, how this is now understood, and what effect it has had on clinical practice.
The papers by Ronald Britton, Michael Feldman and Edna O'Shaughnessy which form the greater part of The Oedipus Complex Today were originally given at the Melanie Klein Conference on the Oedipus Complex in September 1987 at University College, London. The conference jointly organized by Professor J. Sandler of the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College, and Mrs. Ruth Riesenberg-Malcolm on behalf of the Melanie Klein Trust, was considered such a successful statement of modern Kleinian views on the subject that the Trust has decided to present the papers in book form, together with an expanded version of the introduction by Dr. Hanna Segal, and also a reprint of Melanie Klein's 1945 paper 'The Oedipus Complex in the Light of Early Anxieties'.
The three papers , writes Dr. Segal, "are based on central concepts first put forward by Mrs. Klein. They show, however a considerable development and elaboration of her basic ideas. For instance, though Mrs. Klein established the existence of primitive and psychotic forms of the Oedipus Complex, The chapters presented show how much work has been done in studying those early phenomena clinically. They also show a considerable advance in understanding the effect of those early processes and phantasies on such mental functions as perception and thinking."
"All the chapters are also concerned with technique, and it is in this area that developments since Mrs. Klein are possibly most striking. They are concerned with the effect of primitive acting in the psychoanalytic session. They describe the constant pressure on the analyst to play a role in the primitive Oedipal drama and the potentially disruptive effects on the analyst's own thinking. In psychoanalysis, theory and technique are closely interrelated. It is the clinical and technical challenge that leads the psychoanalyst to modify and refine his theoretical framework, and this is the way psychoanalytic theory grows. I think the chapters presented here are evidence of the continuing vitality and development of Freud's and Klein's ideas".