One cannot help but be puzzled by Freud’s four-page interpretation of Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrranus. Innumerable pages have been written on the tragedy, and yet Freud seems not to be troubled much by his brief and allegedly clear solution of the work’s principal riddle. Freud seems to share some of Oedipus’ confidence as riddle-solver. But we must ask just how so.
In order to get clear on Freud’s interpretation, I propose to divide this essay into five sections the interrrelation of which, I hope, will become clearer as we move along struggling with the issues present in each. In the first I will look specifically at Freud’s analysis as explicitly presented in The Interpretation of Dreams. By proceeding in this manner three possible paths of interpretation will be brought to light: i) the ‘regressive path’, which is the pillar of all, ii) the ‘humiliation path’, and finally iii) the ‘revealing path’. Then I will proceed to show why the four page interpretation is so problematic by focusing primarily on the issue of the ahistorical nature of Freud’s analysis. The third section will be devoted to signaling out two central aspects of the play itself, aspects upon which Freud barely touches: the issue of the revelation of truth and its relation to Oedipus’ pride and hubris. Why Freud is blind to some of these aspects will become clearer in the fourth section when psychoanalysis’ regressive type of inquiry will be uncovered. Finally, in the last section, I will try to show how the ‘humiliation’ and ‘regression’ paths of interpretation, both of which are present in psychoanalytic theory and practice, make sense only with view to a third ‘revealing’ interpretation in which a special kind of truth can be brought to light; a truth that can be lived meaningfully.
I. FREUD’S ANALYSIS IN CONTEXT
Freud’s interpretation of Sophocles’ play is very specifically located. Without an understanding of this location Freud’s brief analysis is dramatically impoverished. Therefore, it is crucially important to remember that the interpretation of the tragedy takes place in Chapter V of The Interpretation of Dreams which is the chapter that deals with the material and sources of dreams. But within it the play only appears in the section entitled “Typical Dreams”. We are moving closer to localizing the isssue but still a further qualification is required; the tragedy appears only within it in the subsection beta , that is, the one concerning dreams of the death of persons of whom the dreamer is fond of. The four-page interpretation of the play thus involves death dreams, which are a special kind of dreams, which in turn refer to special kinds of sources.
Among typical dreams one finds those dealing with embarrasing situations involving some sort of nudity. It is among these that we come to the dream of the unhappy wanderer; Odysseus himself standing naked and covered with mud before Nausicaa. Literature makes an early appearance in this section on ‘typical dreams’. Besides, Freud’s commentary on the dream present in Homer’s work paves the way for what is to follow: “the deepest and eternal nature of man, upon whose education in his hearer the poet is accustomed to rely, lies in those impulses of the mind which have their roots in a childhood that has become prehistoric” (F, TIoD, 346). Odysseus’ dream portrays Homer’s reaching out backwardly in time. Children’s shameless exhibitionism likewise pointing to some long lost Paradise where shame, anxiety, sexuality and cultural actvity were not yet present (ibid., 343).
The fact that some writers such as Homer follow the creative process “in a reverse direction and so trace back the imaginative writing into a dream”, allows Freud to ascertain the connection between dreams and literary works of diverse kinds (ibid., 345). If this connection is to hold, then it becomes crucial to find some common element shared both by literary art and typical dreams. And in fact, Freud claims to have found such a linking thread. Of typical dreams we are “accustomed to assume they have the same meaning for all of us” (ibid., 339). That is to say, what links typical dreams to literary works is the underpinning sense of universality characteristic of both. What is meant by this can be better appreciated if one listens to Eliot’s words concerning Twain’s Mississippi river; this river “is not only the river known to those who voyage on it, or live beside it, but the universal river of human life” (Eliot, LNI, 66).
The fact that the discussion is carried out in reference to ‘embarrasing dreams of being naked’ brings nudity itself as a common element underpinning children, adults and literature; children live it, adults embarrasingly dream it, and artists, as we shall see in the case of Sophocles, use its power to undress us, leaving us nakedly facing ourselves in order to better live.
To nakedness there follows a sort of death. And it is in relation to dreams of loved ones that we find Freud’s words on Oedipus. Such dreams, under normal circumstances, seek not a real and bloody manifestation of the desire from which they stem, but rather reveal an unfulfilled wish the history of which can be traced regressively. Psychoanalysis “is satisfied with the inference that this death has been wished for at some time or other during the dreamer’s childhood” (ibid., 349). A desire to kill has been set up, or better sets itself up, as part of our human make-up. Dreams’ power to move backward allows us to bring to light what would otherwise remain concealed, or at least, not properly understood.
Wishing the death of brothers and sisters can be understood by referring to the child’s intensely maginified egoism. Children, at one point in their development, take themselves much like Oedipus will, to be all powerful. And given that for them death is easily equatible with ‘general absence’, then their wishing the death of brothers and sisters becomes, through psychoanalysis, more comprehensible, much less shocking.
But wishing the death of one’s parents, now that seems like a much more complicated matter. There is truly a riddle here: how can we make sense of the wish to kill precisely those beings who have given us life and love in the first place? People who perhaps we are fortunate enough to admire? Freud, like Oedipus, does not shy away from the riddle. Instead he calls on the reader to consider what analysis has found in the case of psychoneurotics who exhibit “on a magnified scale feelings of love and hatred for their parents which occur less obviously and less intensely in the minds of most children” (ibid., 362). It is from the analysis of these troubled humans that analysis, Freud confesses, reaches “complete conviction” (ibid., 360). They convince the analyst of two things: first, that there is a sexual preference by children for the parent of their opposite sex and, second, that the other parent stands as a rival “whose elimination could not fail to be to their advantage” (ibid., 356-7). Analysing neurotic patients then, like dream analysis, involves a regressive uncovering of childhood wishes.
It is only after having said all of this that Freud begins to speak of Oedipus. But the role of the interpretation to follow is not intended to add anything new to the findings already reached. Rather than there being in Sophocles’ tragedy a new discovery, what we find is a different, albeit not unrelated path, towards the revelation of the same conflict. Dreams, neurosis and Literature seem to follow different paths towards an identical destination:
“this discovery is confirmed by a legend that has come down to us from antiquity; a legend whose profound and universal power can ONLY be understood if the hypothesis I have put forward in regard to the psychology of children has an equal universal validity.” (ibid., 362-3; my emphasis)
The argument is intended to be purely circular. The emergence of the meaning of the death wish in dreams ——– an understanding that arises out of an understanding of the distortive mechanism of the dream-work process ——- is intricately connected to the meaning which emerges undistorted in the tragedy:
“It is thus the psychology of children that furnishes the core of the argument, provided that it has ‘universal validity’. But it is the legend and its literary elaboration which provide evidence for this. The explanation is thus perfectly circular: psychoanalysis brings out ‘the particular nature of the material’ ….; but it is the tragedy which makes it speak” (Ricoeur, PWA, 9)
The tragedy speaks from a realm different than that of our, or neurotics, everyday dreams. But within the work itself Jocasta fails not to remind us that what psychoanalysis discovers in the twentieth century is something deeper, the universal character of which, Sophocles’ tragedy allows us to better see.
In Freud’s four-page analysis, I take there to be three interconnected interpretations at work. I will call the first, the ‘regresive interpretation’, the second, the ‘humiliation interpretation’ and, the last, the ‘revelation interpretation’. For Freud, seemingly, the first of these carries most of the weight in our understanding of Oedipus’ psuche. Nevertheless, I will show not only that the other two are already present as early as The Interpretation of Dreams , but likewise take on added importance if one looks beyond the analysis of Sophocles’ play. While section IV will deal with the ‘humiliation’ and ‘regression’ interpretations in the broad context of Freud work, section V will elucidate briefly what the ‘revelation’ interpretation involves.
The ‘regressive’ interpretation is primarily intended to fill up the circular argument of which we spoke above. The tragedies main, or for Freud, ONLY theme, is that dealing with the issues of incest and parricide. Oedipus’ destiny:
“moves us only because it might have been ours —- because the oracle laid the same curse upon us before our birth as upon him. It is the fate of all of us, perhaps, to direct our first sexual impulse towards our mother and our first hatred and our first murderous wish against our father” (Freud, ibid., 364)
We are thus shockingly perturbed and moved by the tragedy becuase it leaves us nakedly facing the wishful nature which cements our psychological history. We shrink upon reading Oedipus’ life-story because we repudiate the meaning of the dreams we ourselves have; dreams which, thanks to psychoanalysis, we come too know all too well. The real shame (and guilt) which asssaults us having dreamt these phantastic dreams, finds a parallel in Oedipus’ own self-punishment. But we, we do not blind ourselves as the hero does. Instead we are “blinded”, through repression, and thus cease seeking to carry out these disturbing wishes in reality.
The ‘humiliation interpretation’ —– to borrow Ricoeurs terminology—– finds expression in the text some of Freud’s own words which strike us as a reprehension. Having quoted the last lines of the play, lines which ask of us to fix our eyes on the culminating fall of the Greek hero left nakedly facing himself, Freud tells us that all this: “strikes us as a warning at ourselves and our pride, at us who since our childhood have grown so wise and mighty in our eyes. Like Oedipus we live in ignorance …..” (Freud, ibid., 365). Now, this is of course not just any kind of ignorance, but precisely the kind of ignorance which ties this second interpretation to the first. It is ignorance, as Freud proceeds to say, of our childhood wishes for incest and parricide. Having regressed and acknowledged what this regression entails “we may all of us well seek to close our eyes to these scenes of our childhood” (Freud, ibid., 365). We moderns close our eyes ashamed (or feeling guilt); Oedipus, through Sophocles’ “pen”, does not simply close them but instead violently and bloodily pulls them out.
The third and final interpretation is the one I have called the ‘revelation interpretation’. It likewise, I believe, finds expression in the text in the following words: “the action of the play consists in nothing other than the process of revealing with cunning delays and ever mounting excitement — a process that can be likened to psychoanalysis” (Freud, ibid., 363). Revelation is here not to be taken in the religious sense of an undistorted meaning given to us humans by the divine. Rather, for our purposes, it is to be understood as the coming to light of truth as meaningfulness.
Through the intertwining of the three interpretations, we will come to see how psychoanalysis not only humiliates in order to open the realm of the past, but is likewise projected and fed by the desire of present resolution and future construction of healthy ways of moving about.
However, even though the three interpretations interact in different ways, they are seemingly under the banner of the first. This is so in the sense that, as we quoted above, this first interpretation is the one which truly allows us to understand what is going on in Oedipus’ mind; it alone can really explain what is that something which the tragedy triggers in us. The tragedy stirs us because we find in it the birth of the Oedipus complex. And its taking shape in early childhood stands, for Freud, as the pillar of psychoanalysis. This complex is both decisive and divisive; it is representative of a frontier. Those adhering to it are truly, for Freud, psychoanalysts. Its denying critics are playing on a separate field:
“It has justly been said that the Oedipus complex is the nuclear complex of neuroses, and constitutes the essential part of their content. It represents the peak of infantile sexuality, which, through its after effects, exercises a decisive influence on the sexuality of adults. Every new arrival on this planet is faced by the task of mastering the Oedipus complex; anyone who fails to do so falls a victim to neurosis. With the progress of psychoanalytic studies the importance of the Oedipus complex has become more and more clearly evident; its recognition has become the shibboleth that distinguishes the adherents of psychoanalysis from its opponents” (Freud, 3ES, 149)
This quote, written 20 years after the writing of the principal work on dreams, sees the Oedipus complex as a shibboleth, that is to say, the crucial piece, the real clue, the very solution of a very important human riddle.
II. SOMETHING’S MISSING
Section I, I hope, has shown that Freud’s four-page commentary of Oedipus Tyrannus is more complex that it would appear at first sight. And yet one is left with a sense of lack and incompleteness. One longs for something more, so to speak.
It is Greek scholars who particularly feel this way. There is just something odd and suspicious in trying to understand a Greek text through three quotes taken out of context and reprinted, seemingly, haphazardly. But what is most puzzling is that Freud, particulary in The Interpretation of Dreams, goes out of his way not to rid the reader of innumerable quotations from all corners of knowldege. Unknown scientists, difficult philosophers and literats all share in Freud’s voluminous work on dreams. But Sophocles does so in an astonishingly limited way; particularly given the centrality of his appearance.
It is precisely this oversimplification which really irritates Greek scholars such as Vernant and Vidal-Naquet. One finds their protest for example in their purposely entitled essay “Oedipus without the Complex”:
“If one proceeds … as Freud does, by succesive simplification and reduction —- of all Greek mythology to one particular legendary schema, of the whole of tragedy to one particular play, of this play to one particular aspect of the story and of this aspect to a dream —- one might just as well substitute, for example, Aeschylus’ Agamemnon for Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex” (Vernant, 69)
Although Vernant’s commentary is half-mocking, half-serious, I have been trying to argue that the simplification, while blatantly obvious —- and just because of this so very puzzling—– is not really so simplistic, but instead makes more sense within the context of Freud’s work.
Nevertheless there are two points to be recovered from the view that wants to argue for an Oedipus without a complex. One is the crucial issue, which I take it really goes to the heart of Freud’s limited interpretation, of history; the other the tension and relationship between, what I have called the ‘humiliation interpretation’ of the play and its counterpart, the ‘reggressive’ one.
Although in a sense the regressive nature of dreams makes them historical both phylogenetically and ontogenetically, it is obvious that Sophocles’ play is seen by Freud without the most minimal attempt at understanding the context within which it arose. In a sense Freud’s interpretation, in its search for universality, takes a leap outside history: “for in the Freudian interpretation the historical aspect of tragedy remains totally incomprehensible” (Vernant, 67). But tragedy is so historically situated. Tragedy springs out of and within a highly complex artistic, religious and social reality. To put it in the most minimum terms; we moderns read Greek tragedy, the Greeks in contrast, at one point in their history, lived and experienced it through their bodies. Tragedy made them feel truly naked.
Tragedy arouse not just anywhere; its birth lies in a crossroad —-much like the crossroad at which Oedipus begins his doom. Tragedy is born out of and expresses conflict and contradiction. The highest tension possible comes to live in the peculiar form of art which is Greek Tragedy. But the tension from which it sprung is not completely our own. It is rather that which appears, very broadly speaking, in the struggle between conflicting moments and ways of viewing the world. Contraries come face to face for a moment in history: the decaying myth encounters the emerging philosophical outlook, prejuridical social forms struggle with the juridical status of the new born cities, the almost absolute determination of action by divine forces is questioned by a new conception of action and decision “in” the agent (Vernant, IWGT, OWC), the competitive virtues face the now emphasized cooperative ones (Adkins, MR). It is in this border zone that the tragic hero lives and breathes. He is a torn being, both acted upon and acting over:
“It is a form that must convey a sense of the contradictions that rend the entire universe, the social and political world and the domain of values, and that thus presents man himself as ….. some kind of an incomprehensible, baffling monster, both an agent and one acted upon, guilty and innocent, dominating the whole of nature with is industrious mind yet incapable of controlling himself, lucid and yet blinded by a frenzy sent to him by the gods … his choice takes place in a world full of obscure and ambiguous forces, a divided world … “ (Vernant, 68)
Understanding this divided world involves taking the gods seriously. But instead what Freud tells us is precisely that the interpretation which holds that Oedipus Tyrranus is a tragedy of destiny — which for Freud, erroneously implies complete submission to divine will (F, TIoD, 364)——– is not the most accurate. This is so for, Freud argues, other modern tragedies of destiny fail to move us: “the espectators have looked on unmoved while a curse or an oracle was fulfilled in spite of all efforts of some innocent man. Later tragedians of destiny have failed in their effect” (Freud, ibid., 364) Freud does not investigate further why precisely it is that such tragedies do not move US, and in doing so he does not quite see how and why they did move the Greeks.Furthermore to his argument one could equally reply, playing devil’s advocate: “dramatic success would be simple if it sufficed to write plays about incest, there have been plenty. But Walpole’s Mysterious Mother, for example, is stone dead. Oedipus lives. Why?” (Lucas, 168).
It is part of this ‘why’ that Freud, as child of the Enlightenment, cannot see. And this is a reminder that we always runs the danger of misreading the Greeks by projecting on to them our own views, vocabulary, and practices.(Vernant, 29).
The second issue which I would like to touch upon is the question of the primacy of what I have called, the ‘humiliation’ thesis, over and against the ‘regressive’ one. For Vernant the value of the play lies precisely where Freud sees it not. Oedipus errs out of megalomania, out of an excess of grandeur. He oversteps ——- and at the same time is made to overstep ——- the limitations set upon us humans by the divine and cosmological order. Under this perspective, the central theme of the tragedy becomes, not incest and parricide, but “absolute power and the necessary hubris that necessarily stems from it” (Vernant, 84). Oedipus is overproud, oversure of his prowess as solver of riddles. And this facet of his character is made worse because of his lack of self-criticism. Rather than seek to change himself, Oedipus, as we shall see, changes the world by distorting it. The central concern of the play is therefore, not so much the murder of Laius, but Laius’ murderer and his relation to the gods:
“It is this hubris characteristic of a tyrant … that causes Oedipus’ downfall and is one of the mainsprings of tragedy. For the inquiry concerns not only the murder of Laius but also the question of Oedipus himself, Oedipus the clairvoyant; the solver of riddles, who is a riddle to himself that, in his blindness as king, he cannot solve.” (Vernant, 81)
The ‘humiliation’ interpretation is primary; the ‘regressive’ only an added one.
Having come to see some of the dangers in bypassing the historical context within which Oedipus’ tragedy was played out, we are now led to ask who is this Oedipus king, who even though most famous of riddle-solvers, has become a riddle to himself. We would like to get clearer on who is he of whom his mother-bride says “may you never, unhappy, know who you are” (Lucas 1068).To do so we cannot follow Freud any longer, but rather must turn our sight, weary of what we shall see, to Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus.
III. OEDIPUS TYRANNUS: TRUTH AND HUBRIS
Oedipus is intent on truth. He is driven against all obstacles, both self-imposed and of external origin, to try to uncover Laius’ murderer. Oedipus’ self-clarifying inquiry into the nature of his past will leave him, all of us at least think we already know, nakedly revealed. Oedipus is truly undermined for the ground on which he felt secure is taken away from him. He enters the eternal darkness of the really unhappy wanderer; he who blindly gropes in the night. But Oedipus is king, and as such he is also beholder of heroic force and power. He thinks highly of himself and it is precisely because of this that his drive towards truth is capable of overcoming his and others’ resistances. Only in revealing himself through his past, does Oedipus humiliate himself to the point where even though self-blinded, he nevertheless will come to see a new light —– a light far away in Colonus.
The very first lines of the play intertwine these two struggling paths; the one towards truth, the other towards true hubris: “I thought it right to hear the truth, my children/and so am come/ I, Oedipus, whose name fills all men’s mouths” (Lucas, 7-9).  Moreover, the Oedipus who knows himself bent to truth is he who also knows that other’s must bend in his presence. The Thebeans, who look up to him (35), place in him their salvation: “greatest in the eyes of all/ Here at thy feet we beg thee, Oedipus,/ Find us some help” (42-44). And Oedipus will be at all costs —- even if he must loose himself —– of ‘some help’.
First he seeks help in the divine; by way of Apollo. Apollo, god known as ‘Phoebus’ which means bright or radiant (133), as Lycean King that isprotector of flocks as against wolves (203), and as healer (155). (Lucas, page 230). This gods of light speaks bright words that aim at a healing which protects from the ravages of excessive beings. His words to the Thebeans stand clear, pollution can only come to an end through exile or blood. (100).
It is with this new information that Oedipus recognizes that he must begin anew: “I must start afresh, and bring to light/ these hidden things” (132-3). Oedipus will start an excavation out of which will surface what is hidden; but nothing does he know of the fact that this tunneling is carried through and about himself. Unknowing he firmly continues his search for truth, initially understood only in reference to the murder of Laius (129). But in order to so continue; he is in need of further information. And not just anybody gives it to him.
Summoned by Creon, Teiresias enters the action. But he does so in a very peculiar way; his entrance is one that is guided. Teiresias comes to life in the tragic play led by the weak hand of a boy. He is the well-known prophecy teller who was blinded for having looked at Athena’s naked body. But to blindness followed as divine gift another kind of seeing, that of foreseeing. Nakedness, which appears again, cost him his sight; but having seen the nude goddess won him a sight which “shares most nearly Apollo’s vision” (285). His new sight then would seem to have some relation to the power to heal. Moreover, what Teiresias sees, now blinded, is nothing other than the naked truth, he is“the prophet in whose heart/ alone of men, lives knowledge of truth” (300-1).
Teiresias entrance is not only guided by a child, it is one guided by silence; he knows all too well what his words carry with them. The enraged Oedipus cannot endure this and calls him, who for all is the wisest of men, a “creature of unending night”, a creature who has no power “to injure (him) or any that sees the light” (375-6). Oedipus has truly lost all measure, and his excessive pride fills his mouth:
“If merely for the sake of this my greatness,
Bestowed on me by the Thebens, a gift unasked,
The loyal Creon, my friend from long ago,
By stealthy machinations undermines me,
setting upon me this insidious wizard —-
Gear-gathering hypocrite, blind in his art,
With eyes only for gain!
For tell me now, when have you proved true seer?
Why, when there came that chanting, monstrous hound,
Had you then no answer to deliver Thebes?
And yet her riddle was not to be read
By the first comer’s wit —- that was the time
For powers prophetic. But of those no sign
You gave us —- neither by the voice of birds,
Nor taught by any God. But then came I —–
the ignorant Oedipus! —– and closed her mouth
By force of intellect — no birds to help me!” (381-398)
Oedipus reveals himself as the self-sufficient king and riddle solver who has lost his humanity; he alone has defeated the Sphynx and alone he will stand accursed. He has both severed ties to friends, through his distortion of Creon’s intentions, and to the Gods, through his mocking of Teiresias mediator.
But even so, Oedipus will not cease asking. He is driven to uncover the riddle which he know sees facing him. “Who was it that gave me life?” he asks the humiliated Teiresias (438). A puzzle to which the seer answers, mockingly enough, with yet another riddle: “this day shall bring thy birth — and thy destruction” (438). And we, puzzled ask, how is Oedipus, already born, to be brought to birth once again? And how is it that this newly won first sight of light, will simultaneously involve the darkest night of death?
The action rushes on and it does so primarily through a process of remembering. Oedipus remembers the words of the insulting drunkard who had said Polybus and Merope were not truly his parents (778-9). And his capacity to reminesce is aided by its slow eruption in different characters which are lead slowly, but surely, towards the discovery of the meaning behind Oedipus’ birth. The herdsman who saved Oedipus as a child from death has to be reminded by the messenger about these past events. Besides this dialogical remembering is one dealing with truth:
“Herdsman. Not that I can recall it —— out of hand
Mesenger. No wonder sire. But though he does not know me,
I’ll soon remind him. Well I know he knows
Those times that we ranged together round Cithaeron,
He with two flocks ……..
Am I talking truth or not?
Herdsman. ‘Tis true enough; though a great while ago” (1132-40)
The herdsman is even forced to remember and answer by Oedipus’ threats of physical torture (1150). But when all the information has been put together, Oedipus realizes what has happened; how it was he who murdered his father, thus committing parricide, and he who wed his mother, thus committing incest. A contradictory (like the contradictory world out of which tragedy is born) ‘shadow full clarity’ sets in: “now all accomplished —-all is clear/Light of this day, let me look last on thee/ Since now I stand revealed, curst in my birth/ curst in my wedlock, curst in my bloodshed” (1182-5). Oedipus stands revealed; he has been uncovered, all his clothing removed.
But the shadow of the intellect is not enough; this blindness must be appropriated by the body itself. In a monologue of utter despair Oedipus, as reported by the servant, yells “henceforth be darkened/ eyes that saw whom ye should not” (1270-4). Oedipus king lies truly helpless. He is now become a hideous monster to look upon (1318-20), too “hateful for human sight” (1301-2).
But his is a king’s nature and pride, even now, is not lacking. Thus to the leader’s words: “I cannot count well what though hast done”, he answers, “ah cease advising me/tell me not now/ that what I did was not the best to do” (1368-9). Oedipus most definitely does not believe himself merely to be a puppet of the gods, as Freud would have it. He knows well both that it was he who blinded himself and, in a sense, not he who was involved in the acts of parricide and incest: “It was Apollo, my friends, Apollo/That made me suffer this misery;/But my eyes were stricken by myself alone./What need had I to see/For whom life kept no sight of sweetness more?” (1328-32).
Oedipus does not die or commit suicide. If had so proceeded, Teiresias’ riddle involving a birth and a death in the instant of coming to know, would have been denied. Teiresias foresees another path into the future. And as the mark of this beginning, which is now simply seen as total disorientation, Oedipus chooses exile. But exile not just anywhere but precisely to the land in which he as a child, one could say, was truly saved to life:
“Leave me among the mountains, where Cithaeron
Is linked with my name forever. There it was
My parents when they lived, assigned my grave;
There let me die, according to their will
That sought to doom me then —-yet well I see
No sickness, no mischance, had power upon me;
Who could never have escaped, had I not been
Reserved for some portentuous doom.
But let my own fate drive to what end it will” (1451-9)
And end of which Freud did not speak and which Oedipus will find only in the Colonus of a poet in his nineties. (Lucas, 215)
It is only after all this has been revealed that one —-finally—– encounters the closing words of the play which are quoted by Freud in his analysis in The Interpretation of Dreams. Our feeling that something was missing seems not to have been completely misleading. But then why Freud’s confidence in his four-page analysis? Why this neglect of relevant aspects from a man whose magnificence, humour and humanity shine through in all his writings?
IV. PSYCHOANALYSIS; HUMILIATION AND REGRESSION
Freud did not ever pretend to see everything clearly, but he did claim the capacity to give us clarity in certain dimensions of our understanding: “Freudian interpretation touches on the essential precisely as a result of its narrowness” (Ricoeur, PMCC, 141).
Diagnosis is psychoanalysis’ path towards understanding. As investigatory practice it is not content with the way things appear, but is rather suspicious of such a-critically held appearances. For instance, something more lies behind the appearance of the manifest content, of our identifying love for our parents, of our neurosis, of our kokes, of our love of God, of our civilization’s goals. It is because of this that the linguistic symbols which psychoanalysis sets out to comprehend come to light, in the first instance, as shadowy, illusory and deceitful. The meaning of symbols is undermined by their presence as idols. Analysis, in uncovering deceit, distortion and blindness, cannot but ask negatively. (Ricoeur, FP, 31). Psychoanalysis is intent on undressing symbols, so that in their nakedness we can better come to comprehend and reappropriate them once again.
Psychoanalysis, as a hermeneutics of suspicion, is primarily concerned with the humiliation of the historically developed narcissism which anchors our pride in conscious knowledge. Of course psychoanalysis cannot deny the immediate certainty of consciousness, the Cartesian ‘I think’, but it does lay bare the former’s illusory claims to immediate truth. Consciousness in this view, is in immediacy a ‘false consciousness’ for, although it posits itself, it does not possess itself: “psychoanalysis cannot situate the essence of the psychical in consciousness,, but is obliged to regard consciousness as a quality of the psychical, which may be present in addition to other qualities or may be absent” (Freud, EI, 351) Psychoanalysis, Ricoeur tells us, does away with “consciousness and its pretensions of ruling over meaning in order to save reflection” (Ricoeur, FP 422). Meaning is a task, not a given.
The movement towards reflection necessarrily implies a dispossession or displacement of the illusory cogito. We relinquish consciousness in order to recapture it at a more complex level through the integration of a ‘deeper’ understanding of the conditions within which consciousness itself is born. To gain myself I must, oddly enough, somehow be willing to loose myself:
“If it is true that the language of desire is a discourse combining meaning and force, reflection, in order to get at the root of desire, must let itself be dispossessed of the conscious meaning of discourse and displace it to another place of meaning ……… But since desire is accesible only in the disguises in which it places itself, it is only by interpreting the signs of desire that one can recapture in reflection the emergence of desire and thus enlarge reflection to the point where it regains what it had lost” (Ricoeur, FP , 424)
There is then a reduction not ‘to’ consciousness but ‘of’ consciousness and for the sake of a new, more humble, type of conscious activity. But, why is discentering so crucial to my rediscovery? It is because through it alone can one move beyond the narcissism which cements one’s ego. The illusion of a not fought for selflove, safeguards the ego from the work involved in its becoming. Freud’s appeal to our ‘humiliation’ interpretation is clear:
“You are sure you are informed of all that goes on in your mind …. come let yourself be taught something on this point ….. turn your eyes inward, look into your own self, learn first to know yourself! Then you will understand why you were bound to fall ill; perhaps to avoid falling ill in the future” (Ricouer quotes Freud, FP, 426-427)
Consciousness is wounded by the “reality” of the unconscious. The ego no longer rules in an unqualified manner, but is instead set within a complex and demanding internal and external framework. The immediacy of the ego and the world is forever shattered; the idea, for instance, of an oceanic feeling —— adhered to uncritically —— is in reality the flight of an ego who denies the exigencies of an external reality which stands apart as alien, overpowering and senseless.The ego is uncovered, undressed, and what Freud finds is a precipitate of lost objects. That objects have been lost signifies that direct real satisfaction of libidinal demands has not been adequately met. The ego thus presents itself to the Id as a totality of losses, ‘I’ becomes the primordial love object for ‘it’: “when the ego assumes the features of the objects, it is forcing itself, so to speak, upon the Id as a love object, and trying to make good the Id’s loss by saying: ‘Look, you can love me too —- I am so like the object’” (Freud, EI, 369). The ego which posits itself arrogantly, does not come close to possessing itself. In order to become itself, it must start by reviewing the history of its losses; it must engage in archeological investigation on itself. The ‘humiliation’ interpretation consequently goes hand in hand with the ‘regressive’ one. Making oneself humble implies retrogression and retrogression can only start through humility. A new circle is born.
Negation opens up the way to the remoteness of our history both phylogenetically and ontogenetically; this happens in various interrelated ways. One can see this backward motion in dream formation. Dreams lay bare, and allow us to acquaint ourselves through critical interpretation, not only with our personal history (going as far back as our childhood), but also, and through connections with works of art such as Oedipus Turranus, but also with the whole archaic heritage which constitutes our humanity. The first topography shows the mechanism of this regression in dreams which allows movement of unconscious material, not towards the motor end of the y-systems, but rather to the opposite extreme, namely, the perceptual end (Freud, TIoD, 692). Dreaming is not only ”an example of regression to the dreamer’s earliest condition, of the instinctual impulses that dominated it, and of the methods of expression …. available to him” (Freud, ibid., 699), but likewise a universal regression towards the archaic structures which involve the rise of the Oedipus complex itself. Psychoanalysis, having quoted Nietzsche, knows that this its particular kind of narrowness is far reaching:
“Dreams and neurosis seem to have preserved more mental antiquities than we could have imagined possible; so that psychoanalysis may claim a high place among the sciences which are concerned with the reconstruction of the earliest and most obscure periods of the begginings of the human race” (Freud, ibid., 700)
It is in this sense that topographic, temporal and formal regresion are at bottom one and the same kind of regression; for “what is older in time is also more primitive in form and in psychical topography lies nearer to the perceptual end” (Freud, TIoD, 699).
But this regressive tendency, is far from being only present in dreams, rather it permeates the whole of Freud’s outlook. It continues to play a central role in the second topography where in a difficult passage we are told: “in the id, which is capable of being inherited, are harboured residues of the existences of countless egos; and, when the ego forms its superego out of the id, it may perhaps only be reviving shapes of former egos and be bringing them to ressurrection” (Freud EI, 378). Understanding ourselves today involves then an understanding of residues present prior even to our birth. Moreover this regressive tendency is likewise present in Freud’s writings on culture.. An example of this being the analogy of mind and Rome in Civilization and its Discontents, where we are told concerning mental life:
“Since we overcame the error of supposing that the forgetting we are familiar with signified a destruction of the memory trace — that is, its annihilation —- we have inclined to take the opposite view that in mental life nothing which has once been formed can perish — that everything is somehow preserved and that in suitable circumstances (when for instance, regression goes back far enough) it can once more be brought to light” (Freud, CD, 256) (my emphasis)
Regression is not an endless abysmal fall into the darkness of the unknown; it rather involves, as we shall see, a bringing to light; something for which we are better prepared having read Sophocles’ play. But furthermore, one finds this regressive type of inquiry coming to life in the very foundation of psychoanalysis, that is to say, it is present in psychoanalysis dualism. as seen in the perpetual struggle between the eros and the death instincts. The latter, which for Freud finds meaningful expression in sadism and hatred is not only supported by biology but its task is to lead organic lfe back ino the inanimate state” (Freud, EI, 380). This is truly as back as you can go.
Having said all this, I hope it becomes clearer to see why it is that in an early work like The Interpretation of Dreams so much emphasis is placed by Freud on Jocasta’s words on incestous dreaming. Only with a view to the whole regressive nature of psychoanalytic investigation does the four-page interpretation of Sophocles’ play start to make more sense. Humiliation and regression, which we saw present in the work itself, are two of the banners held by psychoanalysis in its search for understanding. Ricouer, who captures this tendency in his concept of the ‘archeology of the subject’, tells us:
“If one interrelates all these modalities of archaism; there is formed the complex figure of a destiny in reverse, a destiny that draws one backward; never before had a doctrine so coherently revealed the disquieting consistency of this complex situation” (Ricoeur, FP, 452).
A complex situation hinted at by Teiresias’ puzzling words: “This day shall bring thy birth —– and thy destruction”. Destruction, painful as it might be, is not for destruction’s sake. Neither Sophocles nor psychoanalysis aim simply at leaving us nakedly and embarrasingly facing ourselves defenseless in the uttermost cold of cage-like caverns.
V. THE GAME OF REVELATION
Literature is fond of playing with words. To reveal is one of those words that invite us to playfulness; it calls on foreplay, that is to say, all that which goes on before the actual playing. But some languages aid us better is playing certain games; I will therefore refer the reader to Spanish words here. To ‘reveal’ in English is to bring to light, to disclose. But, at least phonetically, the word could be seen to have some relation to the verb ‘to veil’ which means exactly the opposite, that is to say, to cover, to haze over. If one added the prefix ‘re’ which means to do again (as in redo your homework) then one would end up with the exactly opposite word to ‘re-veil’. The game I am playing works much better in Spanish, for the word for ‘to reveal’ is ‘revelar’, and the word for ‘to veil’ is ‘velar’. It is easier then to add the repetitie prefix ‘re’ which also exists in Spanish. To reveal then would involve a new type of vealing, a new covering up. The game takes added force because inseems to point precisely at Ricoeurs conception of what a ‘symbol’ is double meaning and which in reference to dream we are told: “the dream and its analogues er set within a region of language that presents itself as the locus of compelx significations when another meaning is BOTH hoddenn and given ina n immediate meaning” (Ricoeur, FP, 7). The regressive and humiliation have moved us a primary meaning that distorted, veiled. But there movement revelas new posibilities which leave us not strandeed nakedly humiliated in a maddening past but covers us agains, re-vveils’ us. How is dthis done? .
Now under this view to ‘reveal’ is a ‘re-veiling’ that is to say, a recovering, a covering oneself anew. Naked we would surely die; we humans must cover us through new meanings.
There are many ways in whih one could come to see how psychoanalysis could do this within its regressive framework; through a positive view on identification, also by way of a recovery of the never fully articulated and comprehended phenomena of sublimation by Freud, and finally, the course I propose here to take by looking at Freud’s own words, by reminding oneself of the practice which psychoanalysis involves. In the analytic situation analysand and analyst meet in dialogue to overcome regression and firmly held resistances. IN the analytic situation nakedness sets in, but it s a different kind of nakedness, one that reacts much like Athena did to Teiresias.
The analysand —and all of us reading Freud outside the analytic situation —- is suffering from symptoms which hamper his ability to move around, articulate and face the reality which mingles outside the analytical situation. He/she is stuck, so to speak, much like we dream universally of being embarrassingly stuck in our own nakedness. Their inability to orient themselves in the real world lies partly in a regressive fixation on past experiences: “not only do they remember painful experiences of the remote past, but they still cling to them emotionally; they cannot get free of the past and for its sake they neglect what is real and immediate” (F, 5LP, 40). But not only are they backwardly fixed, they cannot see what it is precisely they are fixed on. It is as if they had become amnesic. The analysand is there fore set in an awkward situation of simultaneously knowing and not knowing. Confusion sets in, as Freud clearly saw in the case of Fraulein Elizabeth von R.:
“it followed that her feelings themselves did not become clear to her …. her love for her brother in law was present in her consciousness as a foreign body …. with regard to these feelings she was in a peculiar situation of knowing and at the same time not knowing” (Freud, SoH, 165)
A riddle plays itself out here. It is a riddle that Oedipus knew all too well. Uncovering the riddle implies recognition this dangerously regressive tendency “the libido …. has netered on a regressive course and has revived the subject’s infantile images” (F, TDoT, 102). We are literally caught up in a dream world.
Psychoanalysis, like Oedipus, does not shy away from this riddle. It desires a try at it. It rebels against human suffering for it cannot understand how “people notice that the patient has some slit in his mind, but shrink from touching them for fear of increasing his suffering” (Freud, 5LP, 84). Psychoanalysis likes to touch; it does so for the purpose of healing. It faces our split head on and tries to comprehensively fill gaps building brdges of communication between both split —much like iin tragedy — disconnected worlds.
And it knows that this construction is a task, “one o f the hardest” (Freud, SoH, 138), is a true battle of continuous struggle towards recovery:
“The analysis has to struggle against the resistances … the resistance accompanies the treatment step by step. Every songle association, every act of the person under treatment must reckon with the resistance and represents a compromise between the forces that are striving towards recovery and the opposing ones which I have described” (Freud, TDoT, 103)
Psychoanalysis, following the basic rule of honesty which states that “whatever comes into one’s head must be reported without criticizing it “ (Freud, TDoT, 107), moves by way of shedding clothes, by untangling knots which hamper our everyday fulfillment. Psychoanalysis clears, much like Oedipus, its procedure is “one of clearing away the pathogenic material layer by layer, and we liked to compare it with the technique of excavating a city” (Freud, SoH, 139). Psychoanalysis exccavates but its excavations matter iin so far as the uncovered city that is brought to light is not simply left standing to werode but rather integrated, cultivated and admred by making it part of the whole topography of one’s mind. Psychoanalysis rebuilds, repaints, reconstructs. Psychoanalyis recovers, that is to say, it covers again our nakedness.
In the analytic situation, byy way of the, beautifully termed by Freud, “catalytic ferment” which is the transference (Freud, 5LP, 82), which is the “true vehicle of therapeutic influence” (ibid., 83) psychoanalysis embarks of the reconstruction of misunderstood losses in order to construct new meaning. Knowing all too well about the dangers of transference as substitute for the analysand most intimate desires — the analysand feels his nakedness can be covered by way of the analyst —-(Freud, TDoT, 103-4), it sets out on a quest towards the difficult articulation of a narrative, the coherence and beauty of which, allows, and proceeds from the overcoming of resistances. Freud sees this narrative structure but his scientific outlook is weary of its claims to real truth: “and it still strikes me as strange that the case histories I wrote should read like short stories and that we might say they lack the serious stamp of science” (Freud, SoH, 160). 
With the aid of a trained analyst who, with Freud’s unfortunate choice of words “tries to compel him to fit these emotional impulses into the nexus of the treatment and of his life history” (Freud, TDoT,, 108). The analysand is given the tools through which he can not only comprehend his/her past, but move beyond it creatively and realistically in a world outside the analytic situation for “what matters is that he shall be free of it in his real life” (ibid., 106). IN the construction of a narrative of which I cannot go into detail here, regression and humiliation end up ina form of revealing, as we saw a new covering, a revealing; a veiling in the warmth of meaningful words and actions. truth emerges out of a backward movement in which we doubt as never had. Truth emerges as a rock that “is reliable,, strong enough to be a foothold, a foundation for us to stand upon” (Loch, CSPT, 221) A rock from which Oedipus at Colonus finds his own death (Sophocles, OC, 1594), with these words, leaving his children without a father:
“My children, from this day
Ye have no father. Now my life is done.
You shall not toil to tend me any more.
How hard it was for you, I know, dear daughters;
Yet that one word of ‘love’ repaid it all.
No man could give you deeper love than mine.
And now without me
You both must pass the remnant of your days” (1614-1621)
His children are left nakedly facing the world, but they are better prepared for it.
For a defense of such circularity as mode of understanding peculiar to human beings one can look at Heidegger’s Being and Time..
For Ricoeur psychoanalysis can be understood, in conjunction with the work of Marx and Nietzsche, as a ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’. For these critical thinkers the immediacy of meaning is questioned and each develops a way to gain insight into the process of distortion which governs, be it dreams, capitalist accumulation and alienation, and morality. This idea will perhaps become clearer in section IV of this essay. Besides, the term is used by Ricoeur in reference to the three-fold humiliation of Western thought: i) the cosmological humiliation by Copernicus, ii) the biological humiliation at the hands of Darwin, and iii) the psychological humiliation at the hands of Freud himself. (Ricoeur, FP, 32-36, see also PMCC). Humiliation therefore, as I take it, has nothing to do with guilt; but with something more like shame.
Ricouer does attempt to situate psychoanalysis within, what he considers are three zones of symbolic language: i) the cosmic, linked to the phenomenology of religion, ii), the zone of the oneiric linked to psychoanalysis, and iii) the zone governed by poetic imagination (Ricoeur, FP, BOOK I: “Problematic: the placing of Freud”)
Perhaps one could see in this tension clear parallels with the struggle between unconscious and conscious forces, between the ego and the id, but one must continuously be weary of projecting the way we understand ourselves to other cultures who shared neither our practices nor our conceptual frameworks. A crucial example is the inexistence of a concept of ‘will’ within Greek thought. (Vernant, 28)
The theory of double motivation holds instead that there is not simply a submission by the agent but rather a complex double participation, both divine and human: “Since the origin lies in both man himself and outside him, the same character appears now as an agent, the cause and source of his actions, and now as acted upon, engulfed in a force that is beyond him and sweeps him away. yet although human and divine causality are intermingled in tragedy, they are not confused. The two levels are quite distinct, sometimes opposed to each other” (Vernant, 53)
Within the tradition of a ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ one could look at Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy for a clearer view of what Tragedy meant to the Greeks. Nevertheless, the Nietzschean analysis is not itself without problems, and one can therefore try to look at works such as Dodds’ stimulating The Greeks and the Irrational for a better understanding of teh context within which Greek Tragedy took place (e.g. Appendix I “Maenadism”). For a defense of a more Freudian analysis of Oedipus Tyrannus , one can also look at Thallia Feldman’s “Taboo and Neurotic Guilt in the Oedipus Theme”. Her argument is that “ it is principally Sophocles who, in his two dramas, bridges the transition between such surviving notions surrounding primitive taboo and their elevation into a significant stage beyond, one which indicates a new, individual concern and feeling” (Feldman, 60)
The issue of historicity places real questions on the whole enterprise of psychoanalysis. This is nowhere better seen than in the important work of Michel Foucault who traces the history of madness in his Madness and Civilization. The possible ground for a critique of psychoanalysis is found particularly in his first and third volumes on the History of Sexuality. While in the third he attempts to understand Artemidorus within his context, in the first he argues that modernity is characterized by a deep concern for what is referred to the ‘repressive hypothesis’. The fundamental claim of this hypothesis, according to Focault, is one of liberation by engaging in discursive critique through which it is argued we may finally overcome both external and internal repression. (Of course Freud himself never aims at this, but some aspects of Foucault’’s critique due go to the heart of psychoanalytic practice) For Foucault this project is radically misguided. He seeks to show this by tracing its origin in history to the development of a practice peculiar to the West, namely, the radical emphasis we have placed in the discursiveness of sexuality. The overwhelming concern with the speaking of sexuality is traced back to the Christian confessional. In the confession one seeks permanently to ‘uncover’ oneself; it is an uncovering which makes possible,at least ideally, the emergence of some deeply concealed truth which up to that point had been held back. For Foucault the Christian confessional becomes secularized in a move from Augustine’s Confessions through to Rousseau’s Confessions and finally in the analytic situation itself. Freud many times writes as if within this paradigm, for example in An Outline of Psychoanalysis: he tewlls us: “this looks as though we were only aiming at the post of a secular father confessor. But there is a great difference, for what we want to hear from our patient is not only what he knows and conceals from other people; he is to tell us too what he does NOT know” (Freud, AOP, Chpter VI ) What is problematic for Foucault on this view of things is that we are continuously incited to confess believing that herein lies the breakdown of repression. But for Foucault this confessional practice is set within a whole network of power relations which give expression too a historically developed technology of the self through which we come to be constituted as particular kinds of subjects, that is, confessional subjects. The former perpetuate the discourse of protest which represents the very means of perpetuating their condition as the kind of subjects the have come to be. For Foucault this condition is that western human have become ‘confessional animals’ (Foucault, HoS I, 159) (This position radically questions many of the points in this essay).
Vernant and Vidal Naquet have two furher arguments against Freud’s interpretation: i) the first concerns the circularity of the argument (I have tried to show that this is precisely what Freud intends and therefore the critique is unfair) (Vernant, 64); and ii) they question the whole idea of Oedipus’ really knowing or not whether Polybus and Merope were his parents. I think this to be a weaker argument and Freud could attempt to answer it.
I will use F.L. Lucas translation because although its English is difficult I find it particularly beautiful. But perhaps not everyone coincides.
Vernant and Vidal-Naquet shed light on this dual nature of the action: “the contrary aspects of the action he has accomplished by blinding himself are both united and opposed in the very same expressions that the chorus and himself both use … The divine causality and the human initiative which just now appearede to be so clearly opposed to each other have now come together and, at the very heart of the decision ‘chosen’ by Oedipus, a subtle play of language produces a shift from the action …. to that of passivity …” (Vernat, 54)
”Dwellers here in Thebes our city, fix your eyes on Oedipus/Once he guesed the famous riddle, once our land knew none so great—-/Which among the sons of Cadmus envied not his high estate?/Now behold how deep above him there hath rolled the surge of doom/So with every child of mortal” (1524-8)
Ricouer sees n Freud’s analysis two interpretations, the hermeneutical and the energetic, neither of which can be reduced to the other an the dual nature of which gives an added strength to psychoanalytic theory.
Perhaps one could argue that part of the fascination with Sophocles’ play lies precisely in its appeal to the language of sight. In this sense it moves us closer to the perceptual end of the first topography.
A view which makes sense, I beleive, only as stemming from a Schopenahuerian view of the will.
It is interesting to note that our game leads us, in its Spanish variant, to realize that the verb “velar” also means to take care of something important, and particularly of the dead.
The presence of the symbol is further made interesting if one looks at its Greek origin. As Anne Carson tells us in her beautiful Eros: the Bittersweet: “The English word ‘symbol’ is the Greek word symbolon which means, in teh ancient world, one half of a knucklebone carried as a token of identity to someone who has the other half. Together the two halves compose one meaning. A metaphor is a species of symbol. So is a lover.” (Carson , 75.) The importance of this relation becomes more important if one sets to try to understand Freud’s claim to be following Plato in erotic matters. (Freud, 3ES, 43.)
A positive view of identification would see it as an inevitable event, yet under certain historical circumstances not simply a negative one. One could try for example, to link the issue of identification with a notion of ‘identity’ such as theone defended by Charles Taylor in his Sources of the Self.
Ricoeur recovers this in his view of Sophocles’ play seen principally as a tragedy of truth and in his genral understanding of art as providing the progressive movement which, while incorporating some regressive understaniding, nevertheless reveals present and future possibilities. : “because of their emphasis in disguise dreams look more to the past, to childhood. But in works of art the emphasis is on disclosure; thus works of art tend to be prospective symbols of one’s personal synthesis and of man’s future and not merely a regressive symptom of the artist’s unresolved conflict”. One can also look at also Ricoeur’s “Psychoanalysis and the Work of art” where he touches on the realiton of he ‘fantastic’ as both representabel and substitutable, and the sublimation found in the work of Leonardo Da Vinci.
On the issue of narrativity and truth see Ricoeur’s essay: “The Question of Proof in Freud’s Psychoanalytic Writings”
1) PRIMARY SOURCES
Freud, Sigmund, Two Short Accounts of Psycho-analysis, Penguin, London, 1991, “Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis” pgs. 31-87. Translated by James Strachey.
———– The Interpretation of Dreams, Volume 4 of the Penguin Freud Library, Penguin, London, 1991.
———–On Sexuality, Volume 7 of the Penguin Freud Library, particularly “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” pp. 33-169.
———–On Metapsychology: The Theory of Psychoanalysis, Volume 11 of the Penguin Freud Library, “The Unconscious” 159-210, “The ego and the Id”, 339-401. (Edition 1984)
———–Civilization Society and Religion, Volume 12 of Penguin Freud Library, “‘Civilized’ Sexual Morality and Modern Nervous Illness” pp. 33-55. (edition 1985
2) SECONDARY SOURCES
Loch, W., “Some Comments on the Subject of Psychoanalysis and Truth”, Essay 8 in Psychiatry and the Humanities Volume 2: Thought, Consciousness, and Reality, (de. Smith, Joseph) Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1977, pgs 217-250.
Lucas, F.L., Greek Tragedy and Comedy, “Oedipus the King”, The Viking Press, New York, 1967, pp. 168-208
Ricoeur, P., “Psychoanalysis and the Work of Art”, Essay 1 in Psychiatry and the Humanities Volume 1: Psychiatry, Art and Literature (de. Smith, Joseph), Yale Univesity Press, New Haven and London, 1977, pp. 3-33
———– Freud and Philosophy, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1970. Translated by Denis Savage.
———- Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press,
“The question of proof in Freud’s Psychoanalytic writings” pp. 247-273.
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, Translated and edited by Luci Berkowitz and Theodore Brunner, Norton and Company, New York, 1970. Particularly “Thalia Phillies Feldman “Taboo and Neurotic Guilt in the Oedipus Theme” pp. 59-69.
Vernat, J.P. and Vidal-Naquet P., “Preface”, Chapter 3: “Intimations of the Will in Greek Tragedy”, Chapter 4:“Oedipus without the complex”, in Tragedy and Myth in Ancient Greece, Harvester Press, Sussex, n.d., pp. 28-86.