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Klein, M. (1940). Mourning and its Relation to Manic-Depressive States. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 21:125-153.

(1940). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 21:125-153

Mourning and its Relation to Manic-Depressive States

Melanie Klein

An essential part of the work of mourning is, as Freud points out in 'Mourning and Melancholia', the testing of reality. He says that 'in grief this period of time is necessary for detailed carrying out of the behest imposed by the testing of reality, and … by accomplishing this labour the ego succeeds in freeing its libido from the lost object', And again: 'Each single one of the memories and hopes which bound the libido to the object is brought up and hyper-cathected, and the detachment of the libido from it accomplished. Why this process of carrying out the behest of reality bit by bit, which is in the nature of a compromise, should be so extraordinarily painful is not at all easy to explain in terms of mental economics. It is worth noting that this pain seems natural to us.' And, in another passage: 'We do not even know by what economic measures the work of mourning is carried through; possibly, however, a conjecture may help us here. Reality passes its verdict—that the object no longer exists—upon each single one of the memories and hopes through which the libido was attached to the lost object, and the ego, confronted as it were with the decision whether it will share this fate, is persuaded by the sum of its narcissistic satisfactions in being alive to sever its attachment to the non-existent object. We may imagine that, because of the slowness and the gradual

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1 This paper was read originally before the Fifteenth International Psycho-Analytical Congress, Paris, 1938. It was subsequently revised and enlarged with a view to its inclusion in the Ernest Jones Sixtieth Birthday Number of this JOURNAL, Vol. XX, Parts 3 and 4, 1939.

2 Collected Papers, Vol. IV, p. 163.

3 Collected Papers, p. 154.

4 Collected Papers, p. 166.

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