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Mourning Superego

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Religious Answers to Mourning

Religion does not supply mourners with a single solution to their feeling of guilt vis-à-vis the dead parent, to their superego guilt. Yet nearly all of them offer answers. “As one surveys the Jewish tradition,” writes Barry D. Cytron, “one discovers that [one of the two] overriding values at the heart of its orientation to death is … the obligation to comfort the mourners” (Cytron 1993, p. 115). Christians also have directions that divert the mourners from their internalized parental voices. According to Hosea L. Perry, for instance, “African American mourning practices exemplify some of the most organized and elaborate efforts to aid mourners” (Perry 1993, p. 39). The common feature here is the importance of the group that shares the guilt for it not to take the form of a superego tyrannical command. We will see the exact opposite with Freud.

Sigmund Freud’s Standard Model of Mourning

Freud’s 1915 “Mourning and Melancholia” is still referred to today as...


  • Dead Person
  • Active Rejection
  • Collective Trauma
  • Psychical Pain
  • Dead Father

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Correspondence to Nathalie Pilard .

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Pilard, N. (2015). Mourning Superego. In: Leeming, D. (eds) Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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