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Meerloo, J.A. (1954). The Monument as a Delusional Token. Am. Imago, 11(4):363-374.

(1954). American Imago, 11(4):363-374

The Monument as a Delusional Token

Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D.


During an analysis, a patient showed me different designs for his own tombstone. Until now he had lived the life of a hermit, producing from time to time some literary stories. He was a rather wealthy bachelor, who hid his hypersensitive emotional life behind a wall of skepticism and cynicism. He came into treatment because his creative urges became inhibited.

His cynical defenses made contact with him rather difficult. One of his paradoxical utterances was that all human aspiration aims at a more or less good sized tombstone. He was amused in advance by the tears of his heirs — especially of the tears of spite and misunderstanding — if they would get acquainted with his post-mortem pre-occupation, that would take all the money he had. In several variants he had designed the memorial tomb, on which his nothingness was to be engraved for eternity.

It seemed rather silly, this compulsive pre-occupation of a tombstone-maniac; nevertheless, in this symptom we find some individual roots of the love for monuments. (3) In this case, a lonely little man tried to magnify himself beyond his death, he tried to eternalize himself in stone without being aware of the unconscious drives he wanted to gratify with it.

In the course of his analysis the aggressive meaning of his delusion came more and more to the fore.

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