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The role of the object and the mourning process in the child
Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
The young child's ability to go through a genuine mourning process has been a source of controversy in the psychoanalytical literature. This may seem surprising, considering that mourning is essential for and inherent to psychic development. This paper attempts to show that the young child's ability to go through a mourning process does not depend mainly on ego maturity, nor just on an acknowledgment of a loss in the external world, nor on the child's understanding the idea of death at an intellectual and cognitive level. But it may depend mainly on the establishment of the primordial mourning process inherent to the separation of the transnarcissistic mother-child relation and on the existence of the objectalizing function (A. Green, 1986) in the remaining or substitute parent's psyche. A clinical example serves to illustrate these hypotheses.
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