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Fleming, J. Altschul, S. (1963). Activation of Mourning and Growth by Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:419-431.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:419-431

Activation of Mourning and Growth by Psycho-Analysis

Joan Fleming, M.D. and Sol Altschul

In this paper we intend to present clinical evidence (1) for phenomena associated with pathological mourning as an adaptation to object-loss; and (2) showing how psychoanalytic treatment activated the mourning process and facilitated resumption of arrested development.

This paper is presented as part of the work of a group of analysts studying the effect of object-loss in childhood on adult personality structure. This group research, called the Parent-loss Project, has been described in another paper (Fleming, 1962) which defines the special population of patients and the method of study. All the patients are chronological adults who have lost a parent by death in childhood. They are being treated by psycho-analysis, which offers an excellent method for observing the effect of various childhood experiences on the development of adult personality structure.

In the psycho-analytic situation childhood events are relived in the transference, and the vicissitudes of the ego's adaptation to the stresses of normal growth as well as to pathogenic experiences can be subjected to close scrutiny. Regressive and integrative processes become observable, and various developmental influences on the structuralizing of the ego can be studied through the testing of reconstructive inferences.

Our study has focused on the adaptation to loss of a significant object prior to maturity when the structure of the personality is more vulnerable to deprivation of an object needed to supply experiences essential for normal growth and development.

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