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Matthews-Bellinger, J. (2014). The Therapist in Mourning: From the Faraway Nearby. By Anne J. Adelman and Kerry L. Malawista. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013, xx + 308 pp., $29.50 paperback.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 62(6):1144-1152.

(2014). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 62(6):1144-1152

The Therapist in Mourning: From the Faraway Nearby. By Anne J. Adelman and Kerry L. Malawista. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013, xx + 308 pp., $29.50 paperback.

Review by:
Julia Matthews-Bellinger

Borrowing a term from painting, Anne Adelman and Kerry Malawista, the editors of this volume, offer a visual image of mourning: “In the middle-distance, the mourner is caught between two worlds: in one, the lost person is still accessible, a specter just out of reach whose presence is palpable and real, and in the other, the world is irrevocably changed and rendered nearly unrecognizably void, the absence of the other the omnipresent backdrop for all experiences…. the middle-distance to be traversed is, in a sense, inhabited by the memory traces of those people, places, and parts of ourselves—of our ‘therapist-selves’—now lost to us” (pp. 10-11). “Traversing” this middle distance is always difficult and painful, but far more difficult alone, as is often the lot of therapists in mourning.

All human beings suffer losses and must mourn and adapt to change. Since Freud's remarkable 1917 paper, “Mourning and Melancholia,” much has been written about the psychological work of mourning, the factors that facilitate or interfere, and the nature and determinants of pathological mourning. Writers from diverse psychoanalytic traditions have expanded and deepened our understanding of the psychic work of mourning (Aragno 2003; Clewell 2004; Hewison 2008; Kernberg 2000, 2010; Loewald 1962; Ornstein 2010). The shift toward interpersonal and intersubjective perspectives in recent decades has further opened the discussion to a consideration of the essential involvement of others in the work of mourning, including the participation of a therapist or analyst in a patient's mourning during treatment.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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