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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Succeeding at succession: the myth of Orestes

Although the myth of Oedipus seems an inevitable template for understanding succession in psychoanalysis, the myth of Orestes offers a more complex and promising view of the intergenerational transfer of leadership and authority, one that takes into account the entire community, not merely the individual leader. A closer look at the Aeschylus drama suggests three dimensions that need to be taken into account in managing succession: what are the mechanisms enabling the community to participate, what is the role of the unconscious irrational forces inevitably aroused in the process, and what are the wider social and economic issues that need to be addressed? This paper looks at the myth elaborated in the Greek drama, and then applies it to some of the current problems facing contemporary psychoanalytic institutions.