How Does Freud Understand the Concept of “Mourning”? - Essay Prowess

How Does Freud Understand the Concept of “Mourning”?


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How Does Freud Understand the Concept of “Mourning”?

Mourning is the grieving process that occurs when one loses a loved one. The emotional attachment to the lost loved one makes one to undergo the process of grief. The mourning ends when one accepts that the loved one is gone and continues with normal life. This paper will look into Sigmund Freud’s understanding of the concept of mourning.

According to Unwerth (2006, P. 3), “Freud considered mourning to be the rebellion of love to loss.” This is due to the emotional attachment one had to the dead loved one and their inability to accept the detachment. This rebellion makes one to undergo the process of mourning. Mourning ends when the person detaches the emotional attachment of the dead person and substitutes it to another living human being. This depends on the level of attachment that one had to the loved one as people mourn differently. Mourning therefore helps one to detach feelings that one has to the dead person. This prepares the ego to be ready to replace this lost attachment to another living person (Unwerth, 2006).

The psychosexual energy that drives an individual towards behavior sometimes resists from withdrawing from the attachment. This means that for conscious recognition of the loss, the ego tries to withdraw its libidinal attachment to the person. This withdrawal process happens through stages. During these stages a person tries to come into reality of the loss and their inability to replace the reality that the person they love is actually dead. This loss cannot be ignored but can be accommodated to enable the investment of these feelings to another object (Clemens, 2013).

Mourning is the conscious response to the reality of losing a loved one. It is not a pathological mental condition as it is a normal occurrence which ends with time. During mourning a person becomes sad, losses the ability to love, losses interest in basic things and may become inactive (Freud, 1923). The person gets back to his or her normal state after sometime. This is where one accepts the reality of losing a loved one and moves on. Since mourning is a normal human occurrence, it is easy to understand how the mind adapts to an occurrence such as death. Freud therefore argued that when the human mind takes similar happenings and changes the course, it becomes difficult to comprehend until other human mind aspects are taken into consideration. Such aspects include depression which affects the human mental state and the person may fail to adapt to the loss of a loved one. His notion about mourning therefore became a hypothesis that is subject to change due to the change of human behavior to certain occurrences (Freud, 1923).

 In conclusion, Freud’s view on mourning was that it is a normal life occurrence that a person experiences due to the emotional attachment that one has to the dead. It ends when the perform accepts the detachment and directs their attachment to another person or object. He was of the view that the psychosexual urge that drives one to a certain behavior sometimes resists from withdrawing from an attachment. This makes mourning stage to continue until the person invests their attachment to another person. He also noted that it is easy to understand how the mind adapts to occurrences such as death and sometimes may be difficult due to the change of human behavior patterns.


Clemens, J. (2013). Psychoanalysis is an antiphilosophy. Edinburg University Press.

Freud S. (1923). The ego and the id. Vintage.

Unwerth, M. V. (2006). Freud’s requiem: Mourning, memory, and the invisible history of a

summer walk. A & C Black.

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