Why is it that we respond to the deaths of others in wartime with an apparent indifference? What is it about our desire that so readily accommodates the representation of the death of others? This article addresses these questions through a reading of Freud's 1915 essay on war and Klein's 1940s writing on mourning and the fear of death. Between them, Freud and Klein produce a compelling narrative about what it means to live in fear not only of death, which is where Freud begins his critique of the normalizing pathologies of war at the beginning of the century, but also of one's own violence, which is where Klein takes that critique fifteen years later. What starts as a question for Freud about how it is that war legitimizes a murderous representation of the other becomes, in Klein, a question about the morality of mourning. In wartime, this morality becomes political, as Klein's pressing therapeutic question—how might one mourn without violence?—is yoked to a more immediately historical imperative: how is it possible to live in terror without reproducing an annihilating denial of the other?
Lyndsey Stonebridge; “What Does Death Represent to the Individual?” Psychoanalysis and Wartime. differences 1 May 2009; 20 (1): 102–116. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2008-018
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