11796 Chapters
Medium 9781855757448

1: Melancholia, mourning, and the countertransference

Karnac Books ePub


Priscilla Roth

“Mourning and Melancholia” is a psychoanalytic treasure that changed the way psychoanalysts think. Though written as one of the metapsychological papers, it is profoundly concerned with emotions. In its insistence that the mind is not unitary, it led to the conceptualization of an internal world in which there are different and separate parts of the self and different internalized love objects all relating to each other in complex ways…sometimes friendly and sometimes powerfully hostile. And it introduced the idea that the quality of these relations between parts of our self and our internalized love objects is what defines our moods, our sense of well-being, and, indeed, our character.

Like Shakespeare's Hamlet, Freud's “Mourning and Melancholia” is full of famous quotes; I want especially to focus on one of them. The statement “People never willingly abandon a libidinal position, not even, indeed, when a substitute is already beckoning to them” is among Freud's richest formulations. For many years I have suggested to students, only half jokingly, that it ought to be emblazoned in large letters on the wall of every consulting-room, where the analyst can be reminded of its message during every session with every patient. “People never willingly abandon a libidinal position”. A fulcrum, embracing discoveries first adumbrated in On Narcissism and the Leonardo Da Vinci paper and pointing ahead to Beyond the Pleasure Principle and The Ego and The Id, the sentence succinctly describes that which is most puzzlingly intransigent in human nature. The repetition compulsion, manic defences, obsessional disorders all have their roots in the behavioural pattern described in these eighteen words.

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9: Teaching Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia”

Karnac Books ePub


Jean-Michel Quinodoz

“Mourning and Melancholia” constitutes one of Freud's major contributions to psychoanalysis. But, like most of his writings, this contribution cannot be read as an isolated piece of work. As Freud continuously revised his ideas, we need to take into account the evolution of his thinking over more than four decades. This is the reason why I have simultaneously used a selective and a chronological approach to teaching Freud's psychoanalytic texts, especially “Mourning and Melancholia”. These two approaches do not stand in opposition to each other: in fact they are complementary, for each in its own way illustrates how Freud himself kept uncertainty to advantage and taking his clinical experience into account in order to develop further what he had discovered.

For didactic reasons, I have divided this chapter into four parts:

1. before Freud: Karl Abraham;

2. “Mourning and Melancholia” and Freud's subsequent developments;

3. a selected post-Freudian contribution: the Kleinian approach;

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Medium 9781892746733

“Mourning and Melancholia” Eighty Years Later

Peter Fonagy Karnac Books ePub


Mourning and Melancholia is Freud’s (1917e) first and fundamental contribution to the psychoanalytic understanding of normal and pathological mourning, the psychopathology of major affective disorders, and the psychodynamic determinants of depression. At the same time, it also marks major developments in psychoanalytic theory at large, particularly the early formulations of the concept of the superego, the fundamental nature of identification processes, and the role of aggression in psychopathology. There are several strikingly original and fundamental propositions in the theory of the psychopathology of depression put forth in “Mourning and Melancholia”. These include the central importance of aggression turned against the self when intensely ambivalent object investments are lost; the role of the superego in this self-directed aggression; the split in the self revealed in the superego’s attack on the ego; and the fusion of another part of the self with an internalized object as the victim of that attack.

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Medium 9781912567423

9. (1914) Mourning and Melancholia (Identification Processes)

Meltzer, Donald Harris Meltzer Trust ePub


Mourning and melancholia (identification processes)

I would like to discuss now that rather interesting period in the early years of the First World War when Freud had very few patients, since his students were mainly from abroad, and when he had time to think and take stock of the science which he had fathered – or mothered. He realized that there were great difficulties in every direction: in the training direction, in the theoretical direction, in the technical direction and also in conceiving its place in the world and what it might reasonably mean as part of the culture. He had been considerably stirred up earlier by the so-called defections of Adler and Jung and in the years from 1910 or 1911 onward there are outbursts against them in his writings every once in a while. They are interesting outbursts because their content often suggests that he is reviling them for just those things about which he is really troubled himself and with which he has not yet come to grips. For example, much of what he reviles Jung for will in fact later turn into his revision of instinct theory, although it is of course not quite the same as Jung's theory. He is reviling Jung for abandoning the central role of sexuality, the libido theory and so on in favour of something that he considered to be a watered-down, popularly acceptable product. Twelve or fifteen years later, it changes in his own hands into the new instinct theory, in which sexuality is not given this primary place but has to take its position within the life instincts and be opposed to what he calls the ‘death instinct’. Similarly in his reviling of Adler, mainly for his masculine protest and his will-to-power theories, one finds the harbingers of Freud's later struggle with the whole problem of hatred and evil and destructiveness, which finally became the concept of the death instinct.

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8: “Mourning and Melancholia”: a Freudian metapsychological updating

Karnac Books ePub


Carlos Mario Aslan

And I hope that you will soon find consolation from my death and that you will allow me to continue living in your friendly thoughts…the only limited immortality that I acknowledge.

Freud's letter to Marie Bonaparte, 1937 (in Jones, 1957, p. 465)

“Mourning and Melancholia”, fons et origo, fount and origin of any psychoanalytic reflection on depression, is a relatively short but very important paper, considered by many authors as a hinge…an articu-lation…between the first, “topographic” theory of the mind, and the second, “structural” theory.

Besides opening the way to a psychoanalytic, metapsychologi-cal conception of both normal and pathological mourning…mel-ancholia…this paper introduces, among other important ideas, an advancement of the concept of the “critical instance” (the future superego) and of forms of structuring internalizations such as the introjection of objects and of secondary identifications.

Mourning is a phenomenon belonging to everyday life. We all have experienced it, together with its consequent mourning processes, through either our own or other people's losses

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