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Bassin, D. (1993). Nostalgic Objects of our Affection: Mouring, Memory, and Maternal Subjectivity. Psychoanal. Psychol., 10(3):425-439.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 10(3):425-439

Culture and Psychoanalysis

Nostalgic Objects of our Affection: Mouring, Memory, and Maternal Subjectivity

Donna Bassin, Ph.D.

In this article, I discuss a nostalgic use of history that reflects arrested mourning of the early transformational mother who “makes things happen.” Exemplified in aspects of popular culture, the past is recalled in foraging and collecting of “vintage retro” items. Resistance to mourning ties the flea-market junkie to an endless elegiac search for “keepsakes from the past” that will “complete the collection” and provide the self with the fantasy of transformational experience and capacity. In the analytic transference, it ties the patient to a bittersweet process of reenacting and becoming. The legacy of transformational capacities from the early mother are tied and wistfully sought in an array of historical objects of affection and desire. This nostalgic relation to memory prevents a true identification with the transformational aspects of maternal practice. In contrast, “mature memorial activity” (Loewald, 1980) represents the acceptance of loss and the potential for an animated and dynamic use of memory in the creation of a generative maternal self.

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