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Mourning and Melancholia

Lapping, C; (2019) Mourning and Melancholia. In: Stavrakakis, Y, (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalytic Political Theory. Routledge: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

The conceptual distinctions introduced in Freud’s theorization of mourning, melancholia and melancholic identification can be used to open up the meaning of grief within the political field. Freud’s observation of the visceral ambivalence associated with melancholia provides a basis for later theorizations of the fundamental passion or narcissistic wound that underlies both the intransigence and the unpredictability of forces associated with loss. His conceptualization of complex mechanisms of internalization of both lost objects and cultural prohibitions, provides a basis for exploring processes of repudiation of excluded or marginalized identities. His identification of contrasting processes of internalization and externalization helps us to map the contrasting ways political energies are directed in the aftermath of loss. Most crucially, his formulation of unconscious object loss as a way of explaining intensely painful affective processes guides our understanding of relations to loss as a psychical layer embedded within political and economic relations. To explore the use of these ideas in political theory, this chapter examines a series of cases and suggests that it is important to distinguish between epistemology and the empirical exploration of a specific case. Epistemological arguments indicate some of the political risks involved in the representation of loss; but it is important to remain open minded in exploring unconscious relations to a particular instance of loss in the political field.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Mourning and Melancholia
ISBN-13: 9781315524771
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.4324/9781315524771
Publisher version: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/978131552477...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Freud, Butler, Lacan, Zizek, Mourning, Melancholia, Politics, Political Theory
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10042014
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