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Paris, M.L. (2000). ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ The Genesis of a Text and of a Concept. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(4):667-686.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(4):667-686

‘Mourning and Melancholia’ The Genesis of a Text and of a Concept

Martine Lussier Paris

The author investigates the origins of ‘Mourning and melancholia’, which has been the standard work of psychoanalytic reference on mourning since its publication. She notes that the existence of this paper has always tended to be taken for granted and that it is therefore important to identify the foundations on which Freud developed his conception of mourning, which seem to have remained almost unexamined in the literature. The internal and external sources are discussed. The former are defined as biographical data, involving a correlation between the theme of mourning and Freud's own bereavements, as well as a possible causal link between these instances and his creative activity, while the latter comprise Freud's reading and his scientific exchanges. The external sources may be subdivided into anthropological, religious (mainly Jewish), psychiatric and psychoanalytic sources. The author points out that in his essay Freud has far less to say about mourning than about melancholia and concludes that the new view of this founding text accruing from the consideration of all the above factors shows that Freud was relatively uninterested in the normal model of mourning, especially when compared with all that flowed from his work on dreams.

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