Freud on the Concept of Mourning
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Freud on the Concept of Mourning
The concept of mourning is mostly perceived as a natural and essential process of grieving the loss of a loved one. To Freud, however, mourning entails a broader method that comprises both the reaction to the injury and response to other substituted concepts. The implication is that Freud links mourning to the idea of abandonment, besides attaching socio-political features to the idea. While mourning is commonly associated with grieving, Freud contends that it is an activity that occurs in the conscious mind, aimed at dealing with the pain of losing a love object.

Freud argues that during the process of mourning, an internal conflict is created by the disinterest in the past love and the previous passionate feeling. In other words, the libido encounters opposing forces arising from the lost veneration of object love as well as the last libidinal drive of aspiring to remain connected with the past love-object (Freud, 1924). Consequently, when the libidinal force becomes extremely strong, the subject will get back to the love object in a hallucinatory form rather than in reality. As a consequence, the item will go to psychosis. Although the negative self-approach as well as the self-regard that the subject shows can be easily refuted or challenged by an observer, from a therapeutic, research, and clinical perspective, the approach would be useless (Gaines, 2016). Instead, from the aforementioned perspectives, understanding the psychological and subjective statements as regards the subject would be

The primary proposition made by Freud with regards to mourning is that during the process, people battle the agony of losing a love object, implying that mourning takes place in the conscious mind. To this end, he maintains that mourning is essential in the recovery of the loss, but should not be perceived as a process that necessitates medical intervention (Freud, 1924). To support his claim, Freud states that the painfulness and difficulty experienced in the process of mourning are as a result of the fixation of libidinal cathexes, particularly on the missing love object (Pelento, 2018). The absence of the love object as a result of physical death or detachment from the purpose is what stimulates the libido to end its interest in the former love object.

Notably, Freud stressed on embracing an economical description of the concept of mourning and emphasized the role of mourning in reducing the burden of agonizing memories. In his view, mourning is an ego activity, utterly unrelated to the diminution caused by insensibleness linked to the passage of time. In applying the economic definition of mourning, Freud notes that in mourning, the world becomes not only empty but also impoverished. Gaines (2016) notes that Freud is keen to differentiate mourning from melancholia. Melancholia, unlike mourning, is often directed at the love object itself, given that it is the real cause of pain to the subject. Instead of withdrawing cathexis, the issue instinctively identifies with the now detested object, to which it remains steadfastly attached.

The central argument that Freud holds on the idea of mourning is that the process encompasses dealing with the agony of losing a love object, which suggests that mourning is a conscious activity. Importantly, Freud contends that mourning ceases at the time when the subject loses its emotional affection and attachment to the previously loved object and attaches its free libido to another different love object. Overall, Freud believes that mourning is an essential facet of grieving, which binds the unbearable memories.

Freud, S. (1924). Mourning and melancholia. The Psychoanalytic Review (1913-1957), 11, 77.
Gaines, R. (2016). Detachment and continuity: The two tasks of mourning (1997). In New Models of Bereavement Theory and Treatment (pp. 170-187). Routledge.

Pelento, M. L. (2018). Mourning for “missing” people. On Freud’s Mourning and melancholia (pp. 56-70). Routledge.

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Concept Of Mourning And Love Object. (June 1, 2020). Retrieved from