Hey, who came up with the name Titanic? You, Bruce?

Yes, actually. I wanted to convey sheer size.
And size means stability, luxury...and safety -

Do you know of Doctor Freud, Mr Ismay?
His ideas about the male preoccupation with size
may be of particular interest to you (She stalks away)

ISMAY (to the others):
Freud, who is he? Is he a passenger?

- Expurgated extract from Scene 59 of Titanic (1997)

The above extract, from James Cameron's blockbuster movie Titanic, serves as an appropriate indication of the pervasion of Sigmund Freud into popular culture. The views of the little doctor from Vienna on the human condition changed the way we regard our world forever, and although his ideas have been reviewed and revised many times over the sixty years since his death we have never lost sight of the basic principles of psychoanalysis. We all "speak" Freud; his theories explaining such concepts as slips of the tongue and infantile sexuality fill our everyday modes of understanding life. In today's consumer orientated world, psychoanalytical treatments flourish as we are pushed with increasing impetus towards neurosis. The type of superficial and obsessive lifestyle exemplified in films such as Pulp Fiction is not far from becoming a reality for the majority of us, as many recent accounts of the postmodern condition show. The media have taken over the counselling role of psychoanalysis through such mediums as talk shows, and acknowledge their - our - debt to Freud by assigning him a role in the biggest film in history (1).

There is, however, one crucial aspect of the human relationship that Freud failed to analyse sufficiently. Noticeably absent from his huge volume of writings, in spite of the fact that it played such a major role in his own life, is a full exploration of the phenomenon of sibling rivalry. This study originated as an attempt to rectify this, examining this fundamental component of our lives through a Freudian looking glass.

Chapter One of this study provides a brief introduction to Freud, the man and his work, and discusses his famous "Oedipus Complex" in some detail, assessing the various criticisms that have been made of this concept over the years. The second chapter introduces what I hope will come to stand as complementary hypotheses to the Oedipus complex encompassing the sibling relationship: the Romulus and Remus complexes. Chapter Three demonstrates how these theories can be applied to life histories through a case study of the German racing siblings Ralf and Michael Schumacher.


1) Contrary to popular predictions, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace did not succeed in ousting Titanic from this coveted spot.


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Go to Chapter One

ã Robin Tamblyn, 2000.

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