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Pollock, G.H. (1978). Process and Affect: Mourning and Grief. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:255-276.

(1978). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59:255-276

Process and Affect: Mourning and Grief

George H. Pollock


The psychoanalytic instrument, which includes method, setting and existing theories, uniquely allows for depth investigations over time of many psychological phenomena. Our focus here is on depression and other painful affects as they relate to the psychoanalytic situation. This broad topic allows for excursions in many directions; however, choices must be made and so one selects a particular area and attempts to explore it in the hope that what emerges gives a clearer picture of the reality one examined. My research over the past two decades has concentrated on one specific adaptational process that is characteristically associated with painful affects—the mourning process (Pollock, 1962), (1970), (1971a), (1971b), (1975c), (1976). I have explored many facets of this fundamental process and now I approach the subject from yet another direction.

The study of fundamental phenomena, processes and laws is as basic for any science as it is for psychoanalysis. We deal with fundamental phenomena every day—in our work, in ourselves, and in those who are close to us or with whom we are intimately involved. Phenomena can be described in simple terms and their presence can be confirmed by other careful observers. These are the facts or realities of existence with which we are involved. In psychoanalysis we relate to many phenomena, both internal and external, stemming from varied relationships in which we are immersed. However, phenomena must be distinguished from the labels and the theories that may have explanatory, causal, aetiological or pathological meanings and significance.

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