Thesis Title

Oedipal Triangle: A Case Study of Temperature Contrasts in Color and Symbol

Graduation Date

Spring 1985

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


The purpose of this case study is to relate one paranoid schizophrenic's self-expressions to the basic Oedipal conflict through color and symbol in his art work.

The client's expressions entailed behavior, verbal statements and the art medium. Themes were extracted from his visual expressions. The themes included rivalrous elements, temperature contrasts, unsubstantial earth and triangles. These themes were explored from four levels of meaning: lyrical, esthetic, feeling-tone and symbolic. Two polar modes of expression were observed by examining the four levels of meaning for each theme. These modes or styles were named vulnerable and defended. The vulnerable and defended styles were related to the client's modalities of self-expression.

The author observed a consistency in the use of temperature contrasts in color and symbol in the art work of several paranoid schizophrenics. Based on these observations a hypothesis was formulated that cool-blues applied to river and water symbols juxtaposed to hot-red/oranges applied to sun and fire symbols are indicative of Oedipal conflicts.