Jennifer Radden

in The Nature of Melancholy

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780195151657
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849253 | DOI:

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This chapter presents Sigmund Freud's essay, “Mourning and Melancholia.” In the essay, considered by many to be one of his masterpieces, Freud develops a comparison between the normal sadness associated with grieving a lost loved one and the disturbance of self that results, he believes, in dispirited mood states and self-hatred associated with the clinical condition of melancholia. With its technical constructs and theoretical assumptions, Freud's essay is not easy to understand. But it is important for several reasons. It has gone largely unchallenged in psychoanalytic accounts of melancholia and depression through much of the 20th century. Indeed, it introduces and develops what have become key concepts of psychoanalysis and object-relations theory, such as that of projective identification and introjection. And, with its emphasis on loss, it reconstrues melancholy and melancholia. From a state of imbalance and a mood of despondency, melancholia has become a frame of mind characterized by a loss of something.

Keywords: Sigmund Freud; psychoanalytic movement; mourning; melancholia; melancholy

Chapter.  7105 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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