19 Slices
Medium 9781855757448

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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5 The splitting of the ego and virtual reality

Bokanowski, Thierry; Lewkowicz, Sergio Karnac Books ePub


Julio Moreno


It is advisable to discuss first the concepts of splitting of the ego and virtual reality separately, for besides having been coined in dissimilar contexts, they refer to different phenomena. I will then ponder their relationship.

The “splitting of the ego” is a notion that appears late in Freud's theory. He himself admits in his 1938 posthumous text that this late incorporation into his theory may have been a mistake. “The whole process [of splitting and disavowal] seems so strange to us because we take for granted the synthetic nature of the processes of the ego. But we are clearly at fault in this. The synthetic function of the ego, though it is of such extraordinary importance, is subject to particular conditions and is liable to a whole number of disturbances” (Freud, 1940e [1938], p. 276; emphasis added).

As I understand it, “being at fault” may refer here to the fact that in the inceptions of his theory, Freud defended somewhat fervently the idea of the oneness of the ego against those who spoke of its multiplicity. At the turn of the nineteenth century, studies in psychopathology (e.g., those by Janet, Binet, and Breuer himself) were permeated by terms such as “split personality”, “double consciousness”, and “separate psychical groups”. According to Janet, for instance, the splitting of the psyche into different associative groups is conceived of as a secondary regrouping of a psychic world that has disintegrated due to a primary associative weakness (Laplanche & Pontalis, 1967).

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6 The “splitting/trauma” pairing: Ferenczi and the concept of trauma

Bokanowski, Thierry; Lewkowicz, Sergio Karnac Books ePub


Thierry Bokanowski

If, in the analytic situation, the patient feels hurt, disappointed or left in the lurch, he sometimes begins to play by himself like a lonely child. One definitely gets the impression that to be left deserted results in a split of personality. Part of the person adopts the role of father or mother in relation to the rest, thereby undoing, as it were, the fact of being left deserted. In this play …we get glimpses into the processes of what I have called the “narcissistic split of the self” in the mental sphere itself.

Ferenczi (1931), pp. 475-476

Sándor Ferenczi [1873-1933] contributed many ideas that have had a remarkable impact on the construction of the psychoanalytic corpus, none more so than those he put forward concerning his exploration of the metapsychology of trauma and went on to develop gradually between 1927 and 1933. These were not only ahead of their time; they remain, to this day, remarkably modern in outlook. The hypotheses he suggested-mainly concerning a re-formulation of the concept of traumatic seduction that had been a feature of Freud's work from the very outset-made it possible to specify both the clinical nature of trauma and its structural effects on the mind when splitting (and in particular what he calls in the above extract the “narcissistic splitting of the self”) becomes the principal means of defence.

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7: Mourning and mental development

Karnac Books ePub


Florence Guignard

In this chapter I attempt to redraw the contours of some basic psychoanalytic concepts concerning mental development as opposed to mere adaptation, particularly with regard to Western society as we know it today. From this point of view, the question of the object and its loss in the external world and/or in the internal (psychic) world seems to me to be a crucial one, as is that of symbolization, compared to the extraordinary development in modern times of virtual reality. I shall therefore discuss the disappearance…recent, but now widespread in Western society…of the latency period, and the impact this may have on repression and on the model of the neuroses as the prototype of how the human mind works.

Mourning: an intersection for the mind

Mourning lies at the intersection of several domains that themselves link together various components of mental functioning. It is the outcome of “relationships of relationships”, which, in an earlier paper, I have called a “concept of the third kind” (Guignard, 2001):

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4 Real wolves and fake wolves: alternating between repression and splitting in complex clinical cases

Bokanowski, Thierry; Lewkowicz, Sergio Karnac Books ePub


Stefano Bolognini

On the heels of a century of psychoanalysis, we are faced in our field with an extremely complex theoretical dimension, enriched by a myriad of scientific contributions, which are coming from various directions and which take care of, at least in part, illuminating ever-widening areas of the individual's psychic life and of the analytic couple's functioning at work in analysis.

Most analysts set themselves to the long and demanding task of getting to know, augmenting, evaluating, and selecting a kit of conceptual tools that can be gathered together from the literature, seminar studies, and congresses. The goal of getting equipped this way is to integrate new theoretical breakthroughs that prove themselves to be useful for understanding a continually mutating clinical reality and, at the same time, prove to be consistent and sufficiently in tune with one's own analytic identity, founded earlier on.

This approach is profoundly different, then, from ridding oneself of that which one has learned, substituting it in block form with that which seems new.

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