Sunday, January 15, 2017

Freud - Mourning and Melancholia - Brief Summary and Review

In Sigmund Freud's "Mourning and Melancholia" (1917) he offers the notion that melancholy and mourning are two different responses to loss. For Freud, pathological melancholy, unlike normal mourning, is a process in which separation from an object of attachment remained incomplete for some reason. Instead of retracting the libido invested with the lost object and redirecting it to another object, the melancholic person directs its excess libido inwards. As a result a part of the person identifies with the lost person, resulting in a inner division. The internalization of the lost loved one forms a separate faculty in the psyche which is harsh, judgmental, angry and yet attracting. While mourning is associated with conscious thought, melancholia happens in the unconscious.    

In his famous and important article "The Ego and the Id" (1923) Freud expanded on "Mourning and Melancholia" arguing that the process is universal and normal and is in fact a part of the Oedipal Phase. The internalization of the parent is, according to Freud, the inner division that forms the "super-ego".