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The end of the nineteenth century is a period that in philosophical and anthropological thought brings a radical redefinition of the human paradigm as a rational being, which was the aftermath of Enlightenment ideas. This conversion is undoubtedly a repercussion of reading the writings of Zygmunt Freud one of the famous psychoanalyst and creator the idea of consciousness and unconsciousness. The latter not only overturned the model of the previous perception of human subjectivity; created a new theory describing the structure of the human mental apparatus and laid the foundations for future scientific and humanistic discourses explaining the functioning of man both in his biology and subjectivity.
The breakthrough made by Freud consisted primarily in the fact that he revealed and presented a vision of the human personality, which is the result of existential tear, emotional conflicts and selfish drives deriving their source from corporeality. In this way, he pulled out the destructive instincts of the individual, and turned it out to be in the process of shaping and creating personality.
Sigmund Freud believed that what we do not remember is often more important than what we remember and psychoanalysis according to him, also draws our attention to the need to forget in a situation where it is difficult or impossible. A model example here is unworked mourning, which turns into melancholy. Those who cannot forget will never come back to life28; traumatic memory turns into nothing.
The mechanism of action of melancholy was first described in psychoanalysis by Zygmunt Freud in the article “Mourning and Melancholia”.
He stated that the lack of consent to the loss is associated with its denial, the internalization of the dead object and life in its shadow. The normal process of mourning, which is the opposite of melancholy, means not only consent to the loss, but also the acceptance of one’s own active role in its accomplishment. Sigmund Freud in his fundamental text presents a binary model. On the one hand, according to Freud, there is a proper mourning, which ‘is usually a reaction to the loss of a loved one or the abstract notion of a homeland, freedom, ideal, etc., substituted in its place’. At the same time this reaction has a teological character, and loss, e.g. death of a loved one, can be ‘overcome’ or overworked because it is primarily a lack of passivity in the face of the loss suffered, but a job that the subject has to perform and this concept ‘ work of mourning ‘,’ obscure and terrible ‘, as Derrida will say, will turn out to be the key to the Freudian understanding of the phenomenon. On the other hand, we would have to deal with mourning ended in a fiasco, i.e. melancholy. It is not a mourning disease, but, as Freud points out, a kind of non-standard state, deviation, deviation from the standard, everyday norm.
Overworking the bereavement is supposed to bring the subject back to the normative state, removing the disturbing deviation and, consequently, the subjective reintegration (because the lack will cease to be a wounding wound). Mourning and melancholy differ from each other, for instance, that mourning is a kind of situation in which the world is emptying, while in melancholy, the same ‘I’ experiences a state of being scrapped. In addition, melancholy (unlike mourning) may refer to any loss, and what’s more, it may end with expiration (unlike the mourning that ends with overworking). The ending of mourning being a reaction to the loss of a beloved object or person requires the withdrawal of libidinal energy from this object. The whole work of mourning therefore seeks to part with the deceased, to remove him from the area of our libido, and in fact to break the relationship with him. The funeral subject from the beginning anticipates the moment when he will stop regretting.
Melancholy ends with a disagreement for loss, but it is, according to Freud, a teleological practice – in this case, the scope of the funeral work is its fiasco. The complementarity of the two indicated positions is revealed here. Whether it’s mourning or melancholy, the funeral work is coming to an end. Thus, at its rate, it seems to be absorbing another, deceased person (or, in one thing), his perfect exclusion beyond the boundaries of the subjective ‘I’. The dead, whether cast out beyond the ‘me’ or perfectly integrated with it, would be erased here, its specificity would be denied, and above all the relationship between the mourner and the object to which he performs his mourning would be broken. For the deceased would be either perfectly integrated (would become an element of the interior of the funeral subject) or perfectly exclude (and as a complete alienness could not enter into any relationship with the living).
The more the breakdown is unexpected, the more grief it is for the loss. Mourning runs differently in each person, differs in intensity and duration, which can be counted in months or even years. Freud’s ideas on depression have evolved along with his analytical theory, while his ‘Mourning and Melancholy’ remains the reference point of psychoanalytic research on depression. According to Freud, melancholy is, like a mourning, a reaction to loss. Mourning is a reaction to ‘the loss of a beloved or abstraction.’ Mourning and melancholy show clinical similarities: the same spiritual suffering, the same loss of interest for the outside world, the same cessation of any action that is not related to the lost object, the same inability to choose a new object of love. Melancholy, however, cannot fully identify the lost object, it is a ‘mourning mourning’, because ‘loss is unknown’ – wrote Freud.
To avoid this unbearable loss of the object, the patient will identify with him, and as a result, he will lose his own self. Aggressive tendencies of melancholy, directed at the lost object, turn against it alone. According to Freud, mourning is a reaction to the loss of a loved one, and melancholy is like a mourning reaction to loss, but the melancholy can not identify the lost object, for him ‘loss is unknown.’ To avoid this loss of the object, the melancholy will identify with him, as a result of which he will lose his own ‘I’.
‘When there is mourning, the world becomes empty,
When melancholy, the subject becomes empty ‘
In order to avoid losing one’s self, the mourning must be duly ‘overworked’. The point is that an adult who is experiencing mourning is accustomed to freeing himself from each of the memories of a person who has passed away. This process is difficult, often delayed. Lack of expressing feelings by people in bereavement can be caused by identifying with the deceased. The illusion that a person lives and identify with them is interrelated. When we lose something, we create a substitute of things for ourselves, a lost person here. Freud showed that this process is not limited only to death by death, but occurs in all types of mental separation.
It was important from Freud’s perspective that loss in early childhood causes susceptibility to depression in adulthood. In 1923, Freud noted that in some cases, placing a lost object within and identifying with it may be the only way to part with an important person in life. He claimed that patients suffering from melancholy had a new superego, which was associated with a feeling of guilt over the aggression shown to their loved ones. According to Freud, melancholy ‘mourning’ Ego to abandon the object by recognizing him as dead and encourages Ego to continue living, just as each individual struggle of ambivalence ‘loosens’ the libido relationship with the object by neglecting, denigrating and even killing him. After this unloading of rage or abandoning the object as worthless, it is possible to end the process of melancholy on the level of unconsciousness. Ego’s satisfaction of being better and more valuable is equally strong..
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