Cruelty of Depression: On Melancholy

Jacques Hassoun, Author, David Jacobson, Translator, Michael Vincent Miller, Foreword by Addison Wesley Publishing Company $22 (105p) ISBN 978-0-201-59046-3
A feast for the psychoanalytically inclined reader, this deeply philosophical volume provides tougher fare for others. Hassoun is a leading thinker within France's psychoanalytical community. He builds upon the radical work of Jacques Lacan, the French analyst whose deep musings on Freud's speculations not only produced a unique form of psychoanalysis in France but influenced ""the whole of French culture,"" according to Miller's lengthy foreword. That foreword proves enlightening, particularly as it explains the unique meanings given by Hassoun to such words as ""subject"" and ""object."" The role of language, along with social relationships, is key to understanding the dynamism of Hassoun's psychoanalysis, in which passion infuses language and depression is more than malfunctioning synapses in the brain. Hassoun accordingly emphasizes ""melancholy"" as a far more appropriate word than ""depression"" to describe a person's descent into the maelstrom of fear and helplessness. To him, melancholy is almost the inverse of passion: the sufferer's passion for life is blocked until he or she finds meaning. The author's theme of exile--from one's religion, one's country, ultimately from one's self--permeates the book. Hassoun has written 12 books. This is the first to be translated into English, and translator Jacobson deserves commendation for his firm grasp of both psychoanalytical theory and complex writing. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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