Psychoanalytic Perspectives:

Intergenerational Conflict in Family Business

William Kelly, MD

Intergenerational conflict is a heavy sounding concept. History is replete giroust_oedipus_at_colonuswith examples from Abraham and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Cain and Abel, Hamlet, etc. One of the more compelling stories from a psychoanalytic perspective is that of Oedipus Rex, a tale by Sophocles believed to have some basis in fact.

Family business is often like a kingdom where there are rights of succession, betrayal, even seduction, etc. Is this, however, a healthy resolution and transition of power and/or leadership? There are many forces at work in every human family and probably the greatest of these is the desire to grow up, to fully become a person in one’s own right.