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Shane, E. Shane, M. (1990). Object Loss and Selfobject Loss: A Consideration of Self Psychology's Contribution to Understanding Mourning and the Failure to Mourn. Ann. Psychoanal., 18:115-131.

(1990). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 18:115-131

Object Loss and Selfobject Loss: A Consideration of Self Psychology's Contribution to Understanding Mourning and the Failure to Mourn

Estelle Shane, Ph.D. and Morton Shane, M.D.

The child's experience in mourning the death of a significant other has been the subject of considerable interest and debate in the psychological literature for many decades (e.g., Bowlby, 1960, 1973, 1980; A. Freud, 1960; Wolfenstein, 1966, 1969; E. Furman, 1974, 1986; Gardner, 1979; Herzog, 1980; Altschul, 1988). In this paper we are concerned with a particular facet of this topic, the role of adequate parental support in facilitating the mourning process, and with the contributions of self psychology to an understanding of this function. Therefore, the clinical material that follows, as well as our discussion of it, is restricted to that which most closely pertains to the topics of concern here, that is, the lingering effects of the child's profound response to the death of a parental figure as they are manifested in the analysis of an adult patient and the means by which those effects, if unmitigated by parental support, are defended against and disguised over the course of the person's life.

Brief vignettes from the analysis of child patients are included principally to support and illustrate this central thesis.

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