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Wisdom, J.O. (1962). Comparison and Development of the Psycho-Analytical Theories of Melancholia. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:113-132.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:113-132

Comparison and Development of the Psycho-Analytical Theories of Melancholia

J. O. Wisdom

I. Introduction

The nature of this paper may be described as follows. An attempt is made to state in detail both the classical or Freud-Abraham theory and the Kleinian theory of psychotic depression. To do this it is found necessary to distinguish between introjects that form part of the inner world and introjects that form part of the self confronted with an inner world. Klein's theory is found to be identical in structure with the classical one, save for the location of the target of ambivalence, but differs as regards the childhood presupposition of primary narcissism. Classically, melancholia was a reaction to a narcissistic wound; post-classically, a reaction to the depressive position. It is therefore necessary to state and further elaborate the theory of the depressive position. The detailed investigation of this leads to the possibility of further clinical phenomena that might be found, such as 'nuclear strain', and raises the question of the fundamental psychopathological factor; several possible candidates are discussed, of which the most likely is destructive love. Certain of the hypotheses explain appearances that might be attributed to primary narcissism and also explain the difference in the nature of ambivalence in the two theories. A mechanism underlying suicide is described, in which a schizoid disintegration is brought about by the reintrojection of a destructive projective identification. Many questions are deliberately left aside, e.g. the question of clinically distinct forms of depression, the bearing of the Oedipus complex, the role of instincts, etc.

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