Article original

© Lucas Magno, Nostalgic Melancholy, 28 octobre 2009. Source D.G.

Nostalgia between mourning and melancholia


Ludovica GRASSI

Ludovica Grassi, MD, Full Member Società Psicoanalitica Italiana (SPI) and IPA, MD, child neuro-psychiatrist, is a full member of the Italian Society of Psychoanalysis and IPA, qualified as an expert in child and adolescent psychoanalysis. She is currently the representative of Rome Psychoanalytic Centre in the Italian Board of Child and Adolescent Psychoanalysis. During her post-doctoral fellowship, she was a Research Assistant in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Cornell Medical Center, NY. Afterwards, she has gained an extensive experience in working with multi-problematic families, infant-parent psychotherapy clinics and research, and transcultural psychotherapy settings in her appointment within the Italian NHS, and in psychoanalysis of adults, couples, children, adolescents, and families in her own private practice. Her main areas of interest and research are infant psychoanalysis, ethnopsychoanalysis, and the role of music in psychic development. She is the author of a number of papers and book chapters on these topics as well as on individual and couple psychoanalysis.

Clelia DE VITA

Clelia De Vita is psychologist and psychotherapist, is Member of the Società Psicoanalitica Italiana and Ipa Member. She is also graduated as Child and Adolescent Psychoanalyst in Italian Psychoanalytic Association. Associate Member Società Psicoanalitica Italiana (SPI) and IPA. She worked for many years in a diagnostic and therapeutic project for autistic children and also in a research group in the Neuropsychiatic Department at 'La Sapienza' University in Rome. She has a great experience in serious cases for a long collaboration as analyst for extremely disturbed teenagers in a psychiatric unit. She wrote many papers, a number of chapters in books, and many poems, is also an Author of a collection of papers on psychosis states. Her main area of interest in study and research are psychoanalysis and art, the music, ethnopsychoanalysis, psychological functions of music, relationship between music and psychoanalysis.

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Pour citer cet article :

Grassi L, De Vita C. Nostalgia between mourning and melancholia. L’autre, cliniques, cultures et sociétés, 2016, vol. 17, n°3, pp.321-329

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Nostalgie entre deuil et mélancolie

La nostalgie est une condition souvent douloureuse mais inhérente à la nature humaine; elle est enracinée dans le corps et les sens et comporte un déplacement spatial et une délocalisation temporelle. La nostalgie, étroitement liée à l’interaction entre identité et altérité, a un rôle crucial dans l’expérience migratoire et les inhérents processus d’affiliation qui sont caractérisés par une rupture profonde dans l’expérience, le langage et les points de référence. Le cas clinique d’un enfant sénégalais, âgé de six ans, récemment émigré vers l’Italie avec sa famille, démontre combien ses étapes de l’évolution étaient vécues comme des ruptures douloureuses et que son trouble comportemental pourrait être interprété comme expression d’une souffrance de la nostalgie et de l’identité de toute la famille. La nostalgie occupe donc une position intermédiaire entre le deuil et la mélancolie, donnant un sens de continuité a l’existence psychique et émotionnelle, même à travers les générations.

Mots clés : altérité, cas clinique, enfant, ethnopsychanalyse, mélancolie, migration, nostalgie.

Nostalgia between mourning and melancholy

Nostalgia is an inherent, often painful condition of human nature, embedded in the body and its senses, involving both spatial displacement and temporal dislocation. It is tightly connected with the interaction between identity and otherness, which is crucial in the experience of migration and the inherent processes of affiliation, marked by a major break with experience, language and reference points. A case history about a six-year boy from Senegal illustrates how development stages were experienced as painful breaks following the recent migration of the child and his family and his behavioural disturbance was interpreted as suffering from nostalgia and the self-identity of the whole family. Nostalgia thus occupies an intermediate position between mourning and melancholy while giving a sense of continuity to psychic and emotional existence, even across generations.

Keywords: child, clinical case study, ethno-psychoanalysis, melancholy, migration, nostalgia, otherness.

Nostalgia entre duelo y melancolía

La nostalgia es una condición muchas veces dolorosa, inherente a la naturaleza humana. Ella involucra el cuerpo y los sentidos a través de un desplazamiento espacial y temporal. La nostalgia, conectada estrechamente a la interacción entre identidad y alteridad, es crucial en la experiencia de migración y en los procesos inherentes a la filiación caracterizados por una gran ruptura en la experiencia, el lenguaje y los puntos de referencia. El caso de un niño de 6 años proveniente de Senegal y recientemente emigrado con su familia a Italia, ilustra cómo sus etapas de desarrollo eran vividas como experiencias de dolorosa ruptura. Sus problemas de comportamiento podrían ser interpretados como un sufrimiento nostálgico e identitario de la familia entera. La nostalgia ocupa una posición intermedia entre el duelo y la melancolía y ofrece un sentido de continuidad a la existencia psíquica y emocional, aun a través de las generaciones.

Palabras claves: alteridad, caso clínico, etnopsicoanálisis, melancolía, migración, niño, nostalgia.

I don’t know what to do : my mind is divided, split in two
Sappho, fragment 37
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, if I only knew the road back,
The dear road to childhood’s land !
Oh, why did I search for happiness
And leave my mother’s hand ?
K. Groth, Brahms lied op 63

I met Ismaila on an autumn day, when the teacher at the nursery school asked me to observe the tumultuous outburst of a boy, triggered by his unwillingness to enter the lunch room. As soon I entered the classroom, I saw a black child struggling angrily on the floor while his teacher was trying to hold him in her arms, telling him, “you are acting like a very small child now”. The teacher shared with me her concerns about Ismaila attending elementary school in the coming year. She did not feel that Ismaila would be ready for this transition, since he has become very anxious after the birth of his brother some months ago.

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