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Wangh, M. (1979). Some Psychoanalytic Observations on Boredom. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 60:515-526.

(1979). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 60:515-526

Some Psychoanalytic Observations on Boredom

Martin Wangh


After a brief discussion of the semantics and the linguistics of boredom, I have tried to illuminate the psychoanalytic perspective on boredom.

Boredom from that point of view is an affect that appears when wished for and threatening

ideations are repressed in equal measure, and when their accompanying affects echo only slightly in awareness as a vague longing on the one hand and mild discomfort on the other. I gave several clinical illustrations of the conflict suppression which results in boredom and of the easy passage from boredom into emotional states of more painful order such as depression or lethargy. I discussed the chronic boredom of the 'blasé' as a perpetual stance against the fear of surprise by anything new. The most effective permanent antidote against boredom is a mind that appreciates differentiation everywhere and observes without permanent closure; a mind which, however, constantly seeks to annul these very differentiations by comprising them into newly-invented units. I finally added some remarks on causes for boredom in industrial work situations and ultimately suggested that the apparent increase in the general complaint of boredom in our civilization may be due to the shut-off of fantasy lest it concern itself with our preoccupation with the enormity of the nuclear threat, which undermines our ever-present defence against the threat of Thanatos within us.

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