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Shapiro, E.R. (1996). Grief in Freud's Life: Reconceptualizing Bereavement in Psychoanalytic Theory. Psychoanal. Psychol., 13(4):547-566.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 13(4):547-566

Grief in Freud's Life: Reconceptualizing Bereavement in Psychoanalytic Theory

Ester R. Shapiro

Freud's drive-based theory of grief, which emphasizes decathexis as the resolution of normal bereavement, is critiqued using a social developmental model of bereavement applied to Freud's own lifelong experiences with grief. Freud's grief at his father's death has been extensively discussed as a creative stimulus to his writing, but most biographers remain loyal to Freud's interpretation of death and grief in his own development. Other close family deaths, including the deaths of his infant brother, his adult daughter, and his grandson, strongly influenced Freud's life and work. A social developmental approach to grief emphasizes the role of relationships in creating life structure at any age and stage of development, and this approach emphasizes the growth-sustaining, lifelong bonds that are recreated but are not severed by death. Freud's experiences with death illustrate the usefulness of a social developmental model of bereavement integrated with relational psychoanalytic perspectives, which view the resolution of grief as the recreation of a new, enduring relational bond.

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