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Grinberg, L. (1978). The 'Razor's Edge' in Depression and Mourning. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:245-254.

(1978). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59:245-254

The 'Razor's Edge' in Depression and Mourning

León Grinberg

We usually understand by depression that set of painful affects and concomitant thoughts that constitute the individual's response to the experience of a loss or failure of achievement. It may manifest itself as part of what we know as the psychopathology of everyday life, in instances of what I have named 'microdepression' or 'micromourning' (Grinberg, 1963) or emerge with greater intensity and develop into a long and severe illness.

It is the aim of my paper to bring into focus and discuss the salient aspects of this phenomenon, namely the problem of painful affects—two kinds of guilt feelings found among them—the involvement of ego functions and parts of the self in experiences of object loss; the experiences of change as triggering off depressive reactions; the rallying of specific defences against pain or psychic suffering; along with those situations which I have called the 'razor's edge'.

Depression is closely related to mourning and is part of the psychopathological process triggered off by the loss of a loved object. It is my view, however, that the loss means, for the person who suffers it, having to deal at the same time with the threatened loss of those ego functions and parts of the self linked with the lost object.

In the well-known account by Freud (1920) of the little boy and the wooden reel, with its corollary the mirror game, I regard the child's play as the dramatic expression of the connexion between the disappearance of the object and that of his own reflexion in the mirror: they are coexisting aspects of one and the same phenomenon.

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