September 1960

Phantom Patricide

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;3(3):282-288. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.01710030068009

In any discussion of patricide, either in fantasy or in actuality, it would seem advisable to begin by turning to the works of the man who gave us clarification of the origins of this phenomenon. In Moses and Monotheism,1 Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego,2 and Totem and Taboo,3 Sigmund Freud viewed father and leader, in the main, as synonymous psychological states. He saw the drive to murder the primal father and replace him with a more benevolent father-surrogate as a deeply imbedded archaic process present in all males. When this primitive vestigial remnant came close to the surface of consciousness or was actually manifest, he regarded it as a pathological outgrowth, differing distinctly from the more benign process of normal aggression.

Since the position of the father in the typical nineteenth century European family was not incompatible with

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