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Lipson, C.T. (1963). Denial and Mourning. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:104-107.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:104-107

Denial and Mourning

Channing T. Lipson

In 'Mourning and Melancholia', Freud (1917B) suggested that we could gain insight into the nature of melancholia by studying the 'normal affect of mourning'. As had happened before in psycho-analysis, the study of pathological phenomena shed new light in turn on our understanding of a facet of normal psychology. In this paper I shall attempt to employ this same methodology which has been so fruitful as well as valid in the past.

Mourning is the reaction to the loss of a loved one. It is a painful process which manifests itself in feelings of grief, loss of interest in the outside world, and loss of the capacity to love. The loss of object precipitates a struggle within the psyche between the reality recognition of permanent loss on the one hand, and the disinclination to abandon a libido position on the other. Withdrawal of libido takes place bit by bit, requiring a good deal of time and energy (Freud, 1917B).

Freud considered melancholia also a reaction to loss, either real or imagined. He pointed out that the response to loss in this condition was one of introjection with all its consequences. By linking mourning and melancholia and exploring them simultaneously he could discern that the nature of one's reaction to the loss of a loved object depends upon the prior relation to that object, that the elements of narcissistic object choice and ambivalence were especially significant in determining a more normal or more pathological outcome.

Abraham (1924), who considered melancholia an archaic form of mourning, observed that 'in the normal process of mourning, too, the person reacts to a real object loss by effecting a temporary introjection of the loved person.

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