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Razinsky, L. (2007). A Psychoanalytic Struggle with the Concept of Death: A New Reading of Freud's “Thoughts for the Times on War and Death”. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(3):355-387.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(3):355-387

A Psychoanalytic Struggle with the Concept of Death: A New Reading of Freud's “Thoughts for the Times on War and Death”

Liran Razinsky

Psychoanalysis, both in theory and praxis, has difficulty in dealing with death. Several questions impose themselves right away: Does psychoanalytic theory have a unique attitude toward this phenomenon, toward this element of people's lives? Can it deal with death in the same manner that it deals with other phenomena? Is death considered a problem?

Three main problems can be identified within the mainstream psychoanalytic treatment of death. I will mention them only briefly here. The first is the lack of interest in the subject. Death, to put it bluntly, is not considered a problem; it is not considered a factor of primary importance in mental life. The easiest way to establish this is simply to note the minimal number of texts in the psychoanalytic literature dedicated to this subject, and its marginality among the topics ordinarily discussed.1 Lack of interest on the theoretical level influences, and is influenced by, inattention on the practical level, in therapy, to issues of finitude and death anxiety. Second, often when authors do deal with death, they do so in a reductionist manner. Fear of death, it is argued, is essentially fear of something else (see, for example, Brodsky, 1959; Chadwick, 1929; Fenichel, 1945, pp. 208-209, 544). This approach dates back to Freud's earliest formulations regarding the fear of death (1900, p.

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