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(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953: On Boredom. Ralph R. Greenson. Pp. 7-21.. Psychoanal Q., 23:291.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953: On Boredom. Ralph R. Greenson. Pp. 7-21.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:291

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953: On Boredom. Ralph R. Greenson. Pp. 7-21.

The purpose of this paper is to investigate clinically the dynamic and structural factors responsible for the state of boredom. Pertinent material from the analysis of a young woman is presented.

A feeling of emptiness, combined with a sense of longing and an absence of fantasies and thoughts which would lead to satisfaction, is characteristic of boredom. The emptiness is due to repression of forbidden instinctual aims and objects, along with inhibition in imagination. But there are additional determinants. Emptiness represents hunger. We are dealing with the substitution of a sensation for a fantasy, a form of ego repression. The emptiness is not only a sensation, it is also a psychic representation. It represents the hungry child with the image of 'no mother'. This may help to explain the slowness image of the passage of time in boredom. Feeling like a hungry child with the image of 'no mother' may be a denial of the introjection of the mother, and may ward off depression or self-destructive actions.

Boredom arises when on the demand of the superego certain instinctual aims or objects have to be repressed. This results in a feeling of tension. If at this point the ego has to inhibit fantasies and thought derivatives of these impulses we have as a consequence a feeling of emptiness. There is then a combination of instinctual tension and feeling of emptiness. The instinctual tension is without direction because of the inhibition of thoughts and fantasies. Tension and emptiness are felt as a kind of hunger—stimulus hunger. The individual now turns to the external world with the hope that it will provide the missing aim or object.

People with strong oral fixations are predisposed to boredom. In boredom there is a self-administered deprivation. The author compares boredom with depression and apathy.

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Article Citation

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. I, 1953. Psychoanal. Q., 23:291

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