Oedipal dynamics in adolescence: From pubertal sexuality to unexpressed aggressiveness

Journal title SETTING
Author/s Paolo Vassallo
Publishing Year 2023 Issue 2023/45 Language Italian
Pages 14 P. 31-44 File size 188 KB
DOI 10.3280/SET2023-045003
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In this article, the author describes an adolescent’s complex conflict both with his father and with his own changing body. The psychoanalytical analysis of an adolescent, Marco, 16 years old, offers us an opportunity to reflect on the Oedipal conflict, its present-day importance, and how, when it reaches particularly high levels of emotional intensity, can be transformed into a physical symptom which nullifies both the body and mental functioning. This case enables us to investigate the importance of identification with the parent of the same sex, a process which promotes the organization of the Self. This case demonstrates that the difficult path toward the “becoming-a-subject” in adolescence (R. Cahn 1999) needs to work through the subject’s conflict with a father unable to escape his own narcissism, and who has not succeded in managing his defenses regarding his role as a parent, and overcome his own Oedipus complex. For Marco, fainting has represented a situation of functional compromise, an efficient symptom which enabled him to “switch off” and has represent an apt solution for his psychological well-being. Marco projected onto his body something that for him was intolerable, as a way to deal with his anger. In this way, not only did he make himself more available and managed to mobilise further resources, he succeeded in not losing control of his impulses, and in protecting himself from a psychological breakdown. Psychotherapy has helped Marco to stay in touch with himself and continue to grow and develop.

Keywords: psychoanalytic psychotherapy, adolescence, Oedipal complex, physical symptoms.

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Paolo Vassallo, La dinamica edipica in adolescenza, fra sessualità puberale e aggressività inespressa in "SETTING" 45/2023, pp 31-44, DOI: 10.3280/SET2023-045003