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Feigelson, C. (1993). Personality Death, Object Loss, and the Uncanny. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:331-345.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:331-345

Personality Death, Object Loss, and the Uncanny

Carolyn Feigelson


The concept of uncanny anxiety can be distinguished from other clinical entities such as anxiety states, depression, or mourning. It has a special relevance to the impact of 'personality death' in which sudden dramatic alterations in psychological function occur. Clinical examples are presented from cases involving neurological trauma and its impact on the beholder.

The uncanny experience is composed of, first, a perception that the object is familiar and unfamiliar in an intertwined way; and second, that the object is wooden and dead in a way that strains object constancy. Lastly, a sense of a double, of one person within another, develops in the observer.

The uncanny sensation is viewed as a reaction to this doubling. It is a symptom that occurs in reply to the threatened emergence of the unconscious belief that there really are two people there. This belief would be a threat to the ego's soundness. Uncanniness rushes in to protect the ego from feeling attacked by something completely unreal.

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