Melancholic Response to War Destruction and the Emergence of a Group Assumption of Post-Ness

Abstract

What psychological response does war and forced displacement evoke in victims? How do survivors of war communicate their experiences to their children? Finally, what culture does the psychological response to loss shape? Using data collected through interviews, psychological consultations, and children’s drawings from two sources—the ongoing Syrian civil war and the Bosnian war of 1992–1995, this paper suggests that the experience of the war generation becomes the organizing axis of their identity and that of their children. It seeks to demonstrate that survivor parents communicate their experience of loss through gesture, act, and object rather than through a coherent narrative. Whereas survivor children use metaphoric and metonymic readings of their parents’ everyday performance in order to construct meaning and form their identities as descendants of a given family. This paper argues that such an identity is characterized by ambivalence towards the self and towards others, melancholic longing for an idealized pre-war past, and the impossibility of letting it go.

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Correspondence to Kalina Yordanova.

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Address correspondence to Kalina Yordanova, Ph.D., 19 Shipchenski Prohod Blvd., Apt. 52. 1111 Sofia, Bulgaria.

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Yordanova, K. Melancholic Response to War Destruction and the Emergence of a Group Assumption of Post-Ness. Am J Psychoanal 78, 47–62 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1057/s11231-017-9129-y

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Keywords

  • war
  • post war trauma
  • melancholia
  • group assumption