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Aberrations of Mourning$
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Laurence A. Rickels

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816675951

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816675951.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Aberrations of Mourning

Laurence A. Rickels

University of Minnesota Press

This introductory chapter provides an analysis of mourning and melancholia by discussing the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud. The discussion involves reconsideration and reshifting of certain basic tenets which inform the way we read literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis itself. According to Freud, the catastrophe of another’s death summons mourner and melancholic alike while turning them apart: the loss that afflicts the former is conscious, whereas the occasion for the latter’s interminable grieving is kept in the unconscious. For Karl Abraham, mourning works both to conserve the relation to the deceased and to secure compensation for the loss. Melancholia results only when the ambivalence which disturbed the libidinal rapport with the object even before its departure now blocks mourning. In Totem and Taboo, Freud explained that the ghosts and demons which haunt so-called savages are dead people who have not been properly mourned.

Keywords:   mourning, melancholia, psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, philosophy, Karl Abraham, ghosts, dead

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