The Oedipus complex facilitates the triangularization of experience. Lacan (1957, 1961; see also Lemaire, 1970) has discussed the way in which the name-of-the-father as carrier of symbols and names serves as the essential intermediary between mother and infant. Without the thirdness introduced by the child’s unconscious identification with the father, and without the system of symbols provided by language, the infant would never be able to distance himself from his mother or from his own experience sufficiently to engage in mediated (self-reflective) experience.
Thomas H. Ogden – The Matrix of the Mind p.124
The critical emotional capacities involved in the resolution of the oedipal situation are the capacity for subjectivity, historicity, object love, ambivalence, mourning, guilt, and reparation. In the positive oedipal situation for the boy, the child’s love for his mother has thrust him into a conflict of subjective desire. He has fallen in love with his mother and unconsciously wishes for genital as well as pregenital sexual relations with her; at the same time he unconsciously feels that the fulfillment of these wishes involves the breaking of sacred laws (Eliade, 1963; Loewald, 1979). Culturally, these sacred laws (which are communicated unconsciously by the parents) involve the prohibition of incest and of parricide.
In terms of the child’s individually generated system of meanings, the idea of sexual intercourse with one’s mother involves a regression to an undifferentiated state and therefore a nihilation of oneself and one’s mother as separate individuals. In addition to this nihilation of self and other, there is also a wish on the part of the boy to kill his father, mother, and siblings, insofar as they are experienced as getting in the way of the fulfillment of his desires.
Thomas H. Ogden – The Matrix of the Mind p.94
With reference to the problem of individuation and the status and valuation of the individual, psychoanalysis appears to be in an awkward position. On the one hand, its seems to stand and fall with the proposition that the emergence of a relatively autonomous individual is the culmination of human development. How this may come about and what interferes with such an outcome, resulting in psychopathology, is a most important aspect of psychoanalytic research, reconstruction, and treatment. Also, psychoanalysis is individual treatment; it takes place between two individuals, the idea of the resolution of the transference neurosis, for example, makes little sense if individual autonomy is not envisioned.
On the other hand, owing in part to analytic research, there is a growing awareness of the force and validity of another striving, that for unity, symbiosis, fusion, merging, or identification – whatever name we wish to give to this sense of and longing for nonseparateness and undifferentiation. I pointed out that oedipal, incestuous object relations are characterized by hovering between the poles of identification and object cathexis, between merging and individuality. The more we understand about primitive mentality, which constitutes a deep layer of advanced mentality, the harder it becomes to escape the idea that its implicit sense of and quest for irrational nondifferentiation of subject and object contains a truth of its own, granted that this other truth fits badly with our rational world view and quest for objectivity.
Hans Loewald – The Essential Loewald: The Waning of the Oedipus Complex p.401
As infant (mouth) and mother (breast) are not identical, or better, not one whole, any longer, a libidinal flow between infant and mother originates, in an urge towards re-establishing the original unity. It is this process in which consists the beginning constitution of a libidinal object. The emancipation from the mother, which entails the tension system between child and mother and the constitution of libidinal forces directed towards her, as well as of libidinal forces on the part of the mother toward the child – this emancipation and tension culminate in the phallic phase of the psychosexual development, lead to the Oedipus situation, and to the emergence of the super-ego.
The development away from primary narcissism, that is, the development of the ego, culminates in the resolution of the Oedipus conflict through the castration complex. The castration threat, directed against the gratification of libidinal urges toward the mother so that she is given up as a libidinal object, is seen as the representative of the demands of reality, and the submission to the castration threat as the decisive step in the establishment of the ego as based on the reality principle.
Hans Loewald – The Essential Loewald: Ego and Reality p.6
In any event, boys start to compare the fact that they have penises with other facts they come to recognize, that girls have vulvas rather than penises, that women grow breasts, get pregnant, give birth to babies, and nurse babies at their breasts. As the cognitive categories of present and absent are created, a boy wonders about his own body. Could he lose his penis and look like a girl? Could he have babies and nurse them? Longing, envy, and fear mix with interest and awe.
Neil Altman, Richard Briggs, Jay Frankel, Daniel Gensler, Pasqual Pantone – Relational Child Psychotherapy p.97