Ambivalence

Picture: The Young Widow (1877) by Edward Killingworth Johnson

“The fact that affection and hatred are so closely linked in our emotional life is still, more than a hundred years after the invention of psychoanalysis, difficult for most people to accept. When I wrote a newspaper column about it a few years ago, an editor phoned me in bewilderment: “How,” he asked, “can someone feel both positive and negative feelings towards the same person?” This is no doubt one of the reasons why we tend to avoid thinking about it. Anthropologists, for example, once debated with some passion the strange ambivalence found in funeral rituals in many cultures. The dead would be venerated yet also treated as dangerous enemies. This tension was rationalised as a conflict between positive feelings for the living and the world of the dead. Yet Freud then pointed out that the relations between the living were themselves ambivalent. As he wrote in Totem and Taboo, “In almost every case where there is an intense emotional attachment to a particular person we find that behind tender love there is a concealed hostility in the unconscious.” “.

Darian Leader: The New Black – mourning, melancholia and depression (2008)

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