An exploration of pathological grief through Freud’s paper Mourning and Melancholia

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O’Dwyer, Ruth
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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This study aims to explore how grief can become pathological. Specifically, focusing on Freud’s 1917 paper, ‘Mourning and Melancholia’. The paper distinguishes between Freud’s account of the normal path of mourning and pathological grief. Melancholia, pathological grief is the result of the mechanism of identification. Freud’s theory of narcissistic identification becomes the central theme and Freud’s answer as to why loss can become pathological. Contemporary theory is considered which highlights the relevance of Freud’s paper today.