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(1978). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 47:493-494.

(1978). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 47:493-494

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

October 11, 1977. SOME PSYCHOANALYTIC OBSERVATIONS ON BOREDOM. Martin Wangh, M.D.

Taking Brenner's recent work on affects as his point of departure, Dr. Wangh noted that the etymological evidence suggested that boredom's cognitive facets included dullness and a disturbance in the sense of time, while its affective facet is unpleasurable, with prominent painful, aggressive, and fear-laden qualities as associated feelings.

While previous writers have noted a conscious absence of fantasy as a salient feature of boredom, analysis regularly reveals some unconscious cognitive content and corresponding feelings, the conscious emergence of which is opposed by ideas evoking feelings of anxiety or loss. thus, recognition of content is prevented, but an unpleasurable sense of pressure remains which is perceived as boredom. As with any affect, so too with boredom: its unpleasurable quality stems from the unconsciously remembered and again anticipated discomfort of a specific pain associated with conflict. the stand-off between wish and fear, registered consciously as boredom, also produces the sensation of a standstill of time: it is the resultant of the feeling that nothing is happening, neither fantasy, action, nor conscious experience of fear.

Feelings of emptiness must be distinguished from boredom, as they frequently signal an underlying depression and attendant feelings of low self-esteem or guilt. By contrast, bored persons usually feel superior to their surroundings, which they blame for their state of mind.

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