Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
:
Login
Tip: To save articles in ePub format for your eBook reader…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To save an article in ePub format, look for the ePub reader icon above all articles for logged in users, and click it to quickly save the article, which is automatically downloaded to your computer or device. (There may be times when due to font sizes and other original formatting, the page may overflow onto a second page.).

You can also easily save to PDF format, a journal like printed format.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Gaines, R. (1997). Detachment And Continuity. Contemp. Psychoanal., 33:549-571.
   

(1997). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 33:549-571

Detachment And Continuity

Robert Gaines, Ph.D

Summary

The idea that the major task of mourning is detachment from the lost object has been examined critically. Mourning is more accurately conceived of as involving both processes of “letting go” and of “holding on.” Loss of an object threatens inner object ties and identifications, which are the basis of a secure inner world and a sense of security in the world. Mastery of this threat is achieved through the process I have termed the creation of continuity. Creation of continuity is distinguished from the various forms of denial of loss by the fact that in creating continuity there is always explicit, even if unconscious, recognition that the object is gone. Creation of continuity always has a bittersweet quality, but, in tandem with the process of detachment, it helps the mourner move forward in life.

The process of creating continuity is often carried out smoothly and without conscious awareness, but it does require psychological work. At other times a person may suffer feelings or symptoms that reflect a failure to maintain continuity, and this can seriously complicate mourning. Awareness of the task of creating continuity and its possible derailment can be helpful in treating complicated mourning. For instance, an overemphasis on conflicts around the need to detach can exacerbate mourning complications that derive from difficulty maintaining continuity. The perspective on mourning that develops from consideration of the task of creating continuity also heightens awareness that mourning is not something accomplished in one period of time and then left behind. While the acute phase of grief comes to an end, the challenge of coping with a loss continues throughout the lifespan.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2019, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.