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Bouchard, M. (1994). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis/revue Canadienne De Psychanalyse. I, Number 1, 1993: Intergenerational Grief—Who's Mourning Whom? Louis A. Demers. Pp. 27-40.. Psychoanal Q., 63:818-819.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis/revue Canadienne De Psychanalyse. I, Number 1, 1993: Intergenerational Grief—Who's Mourning Whom? Louis A. Demers. Pp. 27-40.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:818-819

Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis/revue Canadienne De Psychanalyse. I, Number 1, 1993: Intergenerational Grief—Who's Mourning Whom? Louis A. Demers. Pp. 27-40.

Marc-André Bouchard

In this fascinating paper, the avatars and vicissitudes of mourning and intergenerational grief in the psychosomatic variant of the narcissistic personality disorder are examined. A patient, unaware that he is struggling with unconsciously transmitted grief, may be under the influence of a cryptic mourning process and may develop a vulnerability to psychosomatic disorders. The cryptic mourning process, initially bound by psychic activity in the first generation, becomes somatized within successive generations.

Patients in the psychosomatic variant of the narcissistic personality disorder share the usual characteristics of the narcissistic personality, with the following added features: (1) a particular factual thinking mode; (2) a disaffected manner in dealing with emotions; (3) a deficiency in their symbolizing and fantasizing functions. Specific mediators for somatic vulnerability include the impoverishment of the capacity to symbolize and elaborate fantasies and dreams. The author here suggests consideration of one additional, nonspecific factor in the etiology of somatic vulnerability: cryptic mourning.

To conceive of introjection as the universal response to object loss helps to explain a wide variety of pathological grief reactions, including the important distinction

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between introjection and incorporation. Introjection is a psychic process that, while temporarily aiming to preserve the object, ultimately aims to give it up. Introjection refers to form; incorporation, on the other hand, refers to the content of a fantasy—a cadaver maintained "dead-alive" and never relinquished. In faulty mourning, incorporation will take the place of introjection, a substitution reflecting the inner struggle of the ego both to escape and to master the pain of loss; but in healthy mourning there is a often a residue of introjection concurrent with a parallel series of partial detachments from the introject.

Wholescale fantasmal incorporations lead to wholesale identifications in which the mourner attempts to retain or identify in toto with the lost object. This situation demands a new distinction between the inside and the outside and between the different parts of the ego. Normal grief seeks to restore these limits; otherwise, deviant topographical resolutions ensue.

Investigating the various topographical locations of the lost object, the author proposes, with the help of Guillaumin, four clinical categories. First, utopian mourning, a protective idealization with the purpose of creating a quasi-ideal status for the lost object. Second, ectopic mourning, in which traces of the lost object are masked and processed through projective substitution, rendering a child a "cryptophore." Abraham and Torok's theoretical and clinical description of the process of "endocryptic identification" is used to describe the way a child absorbs unending parental grief. Through an occult incorporative process, the child becomes host to the unmourned deceased, the latter having a parasitical relationship to the child. Basically, "cryptophores," constantly struggling with a "ghost effect," are the unconscious carriers of the crypts of their parents, trapped in borrowed guilt to pay a debt not discharged by the preceding generation. Third, nontopographical mourning is characteristic of melancholic outcomes, through a sort of invasion of the ego by the lost object, implying the impossibility of containing or elaborating it. Fourth, paratopographical mourning uses partial objects in an obsessional or fetishistic manner, clinging to them in order to keep the object alive metonymically, thus avoiding an insufferable narcissistic wound.

Three clinical vignettes of cases of ectopic mourning are presented, along with an illustration from Richard Lortz's book Bereavements, showing that a psychosomatic destiny comes into play very early in one's life, sometimes even before birth.

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Article Citation

Bouchard, M. (1994). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis/revue Canadienne De Psychanalyse. I, Number 1, 1993. Psychoanal. Q., 63:818-819

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