Attachment, sexuality, power: Oedipal theory as regulator of family affection in freud's case of little hans

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In Attachment, Sexuality, Power, Jerome C. Wakefield challenges established views of Freudian psychoanalysis by applying Foucault's concept of 'power/knowledge' to Freud's case of Little Hans, illuminating the role that Oedipal theory has played in reorganizing intimate family relationships. Combining close examination of the Hans case with accounts of the history of marriage and psychology of co-sleeping, this book argues that the Oedipal theory achieved prominence because its implications for family dynamics supported changing social values. Wakefield identifies a previously overlooked reason for Hans's anxiety-his father attempted to protect Hans from his supposed Oedipal desires by separating Hans from his mother. Thus, Wakefield argues, the father's exercise of power based on his belief in Oedipal theory, not an actual Oedipus complex, caused Hans's vulnerability to anxiety-revealing the theory's potential to cause harm by distancing children from their parents, even as such distancing made the theory socially appealing. This book's novel and carefully documented articulation of the mechanisms of power by which Oedipal theory exerts its influence on family life will be of interest to psychoanalysts and psychotherapists alike, and essential for scholars in the fields of psychoanalysis, philosophy of science and the history of psychiatry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages312
ISBN (Electronic)9781136726965
ISBN (Print)9781032224091
StatePublished - Sep 23 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Psychology


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