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Latent Freudian Thoughts Towards a Theory of Neurotic Depression: Part One

The Letter, Issue 13, Summer 1998, Pages 1 - 25



Part One The Anxiety-Neurotic Depression*


Four types of neurotic depression according to Freud

This paper deals with the question of neurotic depression from a Freudian point of view. This means that I will try to isolate some elements towards developing a theory about the neurotic depressions that could have been Freud's own theory - because, as you know, Freud himself did not develop an explicit theory on this point. For this purpose I have collected together a number of remarks on depression which are to be found scattered throughout his work. These remarks could be compared to a kind of latent thought from which it should be possible to construct a manifest Freudian theory of the neurotic depressions. With Lacan we could say: a theory of the depressions within the structure of the hysterical discourse. In what I have been saying up to now, some of the crucial points in every psychoanalytic discussion of the depressions are already implied.

The first point is that from the very beginning, even before his invention of the psychoanalytic discourse, in his so-called pre-analytic period, Freud made a clear-cut distinction between two kinds of depressions: on the one hand, neurotic or hysterical depressions - on the other hand, psychotic depression or melancholia. Freud maintained this structural distinction, without ambiguity, throughout all the subsequent metapsychological and nosological revolutions of his psychoanalysis.

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