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Wilson, E., Jr. (1986). Revue Fran├žaise De Psychanalyse. XLV, 1981: The Anniversary and Its Magic. Jacques Cain. Pp. 1187-1197.. Psychoanal Q., 55:701.

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Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLV, 1981: The Anniversary and Its Magic. Jacques Cain. Pp. 1187-1197.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:701

Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLV, 1981: The Anniversary and Its Magic. Jacques Cain. Pp. 1187-1197.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

Cain discusses the concept of anniversary responses, utilizing the ambiguity of the French word anniversaire which also means birthday. Considering that these responses are clinical phenomena familiar to all analysts, it is surprising that Freud was little interested in them. Cain suggests that this may be linked to Freud's problems about his aging and the dates of births and deaths in his family, including his fantasies about the time of his own death. Cain emphasizes the double aspects of anniversary responses, one directed toward consciousness with the periodic ego anxiety, the other turned toward the unconscious and defined by its instinctual aspects, as well as the continuing need to deal with loss. He questions whether mourning is ever complete. The anniversary reaction may also be seen as a mechanism for healing the depression over an irreparable loss. It involves considerable ambivalence. The return of the repressed occurs, then denial sets in, and this resuscitation of the past is again plunged into forgetfulness. Anniversary responses have to do with the maintenance of memory, therefore with the mnemic trace, yet that is not the full story. Since the invention of the mystic writing pad, science now offers us many types of registrations of external aspects of past events. Still, what is psychologically more important is the condensation that occurs with the associations to the original event. We must also recognize that the anniversary response is a confrontation between the mnemic trace and reality. It is sometimes so real a confrontation that the stimulus barrier has difficulty carrying out its function, and the birthday or anniversary may be the occasion of dangerous acting out.


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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1986). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLV, 1981. Psychoanal. Q., 55:701

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WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.