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Rochlin, G. (1961). The Dread of Abandonment—A Contribution to the Etiology of the Loss Complex and to Depression. Psychoanal. St. Child, 16:451-470.

(1961). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 16:451-470

The Dread of Abandonment—A Contribution to the Etiology of the Loss Complex and to Depression

Gregory Rochlin, M.D.

The external and the inner influences which discernibly evoke despair prove to have a common denominator—the experience of loss. In a previous paper (1959), I attempted to show some of the significant effects of such a loss in various periods of psychological development. Why loss should have such a profound influence throughout life is the subject of this paper.

Loss refers here, in the psychoanalytic sense of the term, to object loss, a desired relationship to another person who had to be abandoned. The object may represent or be substituted by some abstraction or may even be represented or substituted as a desired

This paper was presented at the Tenth Anniversary Symposium, the Child Psychiatry Unit, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Harvard Medical School. The symposium was devoted to "Psychoanalytic Studies in Object Loss and Depression."

2 In the present context, person and object tend to be used synonymously. However, in the ontogenesis of a relationship there is a difference. The relationship to a person represents the most archaic form of an object choice, the chief libidinal investment being then narcissistic. The infant or young child, because of its immaturity, can make no other connection or cathexis.

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