Modernity, Melancholia, and the (In)Ability to Mourn

Diane Jonte-Pace

in Speaking the Unspeakable

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780520226005
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927698 | DOI:
Modernity, Melancholia, and the (In)Ability to Mourn

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The chapter turns to two texts written in 1915, reflections on mourning and melancholia, showing that the themes of the uncanny mother and Jewish identity lie just below the surface of the texts. Freud here shows himself as a successful mourner of religion in transition, but an unsuccessful or “melancholic” mourner of the lost mother. Freud's inability to mourn the mother is far from idiosyncratic; however, for we are all melancholy mourners of maternal loss. Freud's incomplete forays into this terrain over fragmentary and provocative interpretations of the unconscious associations of mortality and maternity and a promising step toward bringing to consciousness are the sources of the twin plagues of misogyny and xenophobia. Freud discusses the response to instability, transience, and loss. The article explains texts, contains an insightful analysis of how mourning and melancholia happen, what depression feels like, how the pain of loss influences the ego, how pain diminishes over time, how new “structures” replace lost loves and ideals, and how mourning and melancholia differ.

Keywords: uncanny mother; mourning; misogyny; melancholia; modernity; melancholic mourner-

Chapter.  7981 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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