Mourning and Melancholia

Teaching Freud today, “Mourning and Melancholia.” I haven’t taught Freud before, and I have to say, it’s a little bit of a tightrope between:

a) He has a *lot* of useful things to say that have greatly influenced the study of psychology and how humans think about themselves (and about literature), and

b) He had some really PROBLEMATIC ideas about a whole host of things, and especially on women, oh my god.

But we had a fun class:

• I started them with Hippocrates and the Greek humors (sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, melancholic)
• segued to astrology (I don’t believe in it, but I’m a Leo and tick ALL the Leo boxes and I don’t like it)

• and the Hogwarts houses (Gryffyndor ALL DAY LONG, but hey, I think Harry Potter is over, because my current class of students wasn’t familiar with it, kind of a relief considering Rowling’s TERF-ness)

• connected all that to Freud and melancholia/mourning

• mentioning the bit in Interpretation of Dreams where he talks about telling someone your nightmare (or writing it down), which is amazingly effective at removing the immediacy of the experience, because it actually physically moves the memory from one part of your brain (the part that floods you with adrenaline from your fight-flight reflex) to another part, if I’m understanding the science correctly — telling stories is actually sort of magic that way

• then touched briefly on Jung (collective unconscious, myth)

• and Lacan (connecting all this to language and the formalists)

• ending up with a discussion of what do we mean by ‘pathology’
• what happens when we abandon the structure of normal vs. abnormal, and even typical vs. neurotypical

• and start thinking in terms of neurotribes

I even suggested that when we get to Derrida and the post-structuralists, you can connect their ideas about de-centering to this, and maybe that was a bit of a reach? I think it works, though.

Good class. I love teaching. 🙂. Can’t wait ’til the fall, when I will hopefully be able to do all this in person, because it really is even more fun then, by a lot.

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