According to my reading: the meaning of the "pre-oedipal"

There’s much complexity to the psychoanalytic term,  “pre-oedipal state”.    Different writers also give it different meanings and weight.  For those who follow Klein,  along the lines of Bion and Meltzer, there are gradations between being in the paranoid-schizoid position and being able to accept the value of others.  Some of the later practitioners define the nature of the gradation as a movement between paranoid-schizoid subjective position and the so-called depressive position, the latter being where others come to figure as separate objects in their own right.  The process of this separation may be gradated and yet still called pre-oedipal.  One is either at the earlier stage or the later stage of separation from subjective states suggestive of ontological unity with others.

If you think you don’t view the world through some or various gradations of this consciousness, you are nonetheless still bound to do so as it is part of “human nature” and indeed, if the world were not given coherence by means of your unconscious projections, you would see yourself as being equal to every other person, whilst not having many essential characteristics that differentiate your identity from others.  The ability to recognize and to have a more precise individuality applies to few —  and it takes many years to be able to separate oneself from others, particularly one’s family.  The political forces governing one’s childhood both help and thwart adult identity.

This psychologically ubiquitous, regressive part of our consciousness is particularly adept at bringing us into conformity with power hierarchies by re-proportioning parts of our personality to be able to accept our place within them as “natural”. We project the sense of self-competency upwards in the hierarchy, and the sense of our own incompetency downwards towards those who are defined as lower than us in the social/political hierarchy. That’s how it is and how reality is distorted and people attain particular gradations of positive or negative identities, depending on where they are in the social hierarchy.

At the same time, the  altogether human tendency to project into others is so natural to human social relations that one would not do justice to the human mind to label this dimension as always and inevitably pathological. I will explain how there can be something positive involved in our capacity to project.

In some cases, the “pre-oedipal field” can also have a positive value if it is not entirely immature but has developed towards appreciating others. Shamanistic initiation ought to bring about such a sense of the nature of being as sharing one’s existence with others — for, to empathize also involves projecting, only we project our understanding and sensations into situations that are not purely to do with us.


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