Grief and Its Transcendence : Memory, Identity, Creativity book cover
1st Edition

Grief and Its Transcendence
Memory, Identity, Creativity

ISBN 9781138812871
Published October 7, 2015 by Routledge
256 Pages

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Book Description

Grief and its Transcendence: Memory, Identity, Creativity is a landmark contribution that provides fresh insights into the experience and process of mourning. It includes fourteen original essays by pre-eminent psychoanalysts, historians, classicists, theologians, architects, art-historians and artists, that take on the subject of normal, rather than pathological mourning. In particular, it considers the diversity of the mourning process; the bereavement of ordinary vs. extraordinary loss; the contribution of mourning to personal and creative growth; and individual, social, and cultural means of transcending grief.

The book is divided into three parts, each including two to four essays followed by one or two critical discussions. Co-editor Adele Tutter’s Prologue outlines the salient themes and tensions that emerge from the volume. Part I juxtaposes the consideration of grief in antiquity with an examination of the contemporary use of memorials to facilitate communal remembrance. Part II offers intimate first-person accounts of mourning from four renowned psychoanalysts that challenge long-held psychoanalytic formulations of mourning. Part III contains deeply personal essays that explore the use of sculpture, photography, and music to withstand, mourn, and transcend loss on individual, cultural and political levels. Drawing on the humanistic wisdom that underlies psychoanalytic thought, co-editor Léon Wurmser’s Epilogue closes the volume.

Grief and its Transcendence will be a must for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and scholars within other disciplines who are interested in the topics of grief, bereavement and creativity.

Table of Contents


Illustrations and credits




Daria Colombo

Prologue Give sorrow words

Adele Tutter

Part I Family, Community, Society

1 Cicero on grief and friendship

David Konstan

2 Rituals of memory

Jan Assmann

3 The Staten Island September 11 Memorial:

Creativity, mourning, and the experience of loss

Jeffrey Karl Ochsner

4 Designing the Staten Island September 11 Memorial

Masayuki Sono

5 Response to Part I: The Relics of Absence

John Gale

6 Discussion of Part I: Arcs of Recovery

Paul Schwaber

Part II Theory, Specificity, Authenticity

7 Further reflections on object loss and mourning

Marion M. Oliner

8 Memorial spaces:

Further comments on mourning following multiple traumatic losses

Anna Ornstein

9 The long-term effects of the mourning process

Otto F. Kernberg

10 Mourning, double reality and the culture of remembering and forgiving:

A very personal report

Léon Wurmser

11 Discussion of Part II: Nothing Gold Can Stay?

Jeanine Vivona

Part III History, Ancestry, Memory

12 Lost wax to lost fathers:

Installations by British sculptor Jane McAdam Freud

Jane McAdam Freud in conversation with Adele Tutter

13 Sudek, Janáček, Hukvaldy, and Me:

Notes on art, loss, and nationalism under political oppression

Adele Tutter

14 Discussion of Part III: Image, Loss, Delay

Diane O’Donoghue

Epilogue "’Tis nameless woe"

Léon Wurmser

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Adele Tutter, M.D., Ph.D. is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University; and Faculty, the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. She is the author of Dream House: An Intimate Portrait of the Philip Johnson Glass House and editor of The Muse: Psychoanalytic Explorations of Creative Inspiration. Dr. Tutter is in private practice in Manhattan.

Léon Wurmser, M.D., Ph.D. is Past Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of West Virginia, and Training and Supervising Analyst at the Contemporary Freudian Society. He has authored and co-authored many books on the theory and practice of psychoanalysis, including The Mask of Shame, Jealousy and Envy—New Views on Two Powerful Emotions, and Nothing Good Is Allowed to Stand.  Dr. Wurmser lectures extensively in the USA and abroad.


In a book at once intellectually rigorous and emotionally astute, the authors investigate the forms of melancholia that constitute mourning. Eloquent and varied, these essays give words to wordless experiences; they reify loss and respond to it, often with quiet poetry. — Andrew Solomon (The Noonday Demon and Far From the Tree)

To the study of heartache and the struggle for its transformation, to "the substance under the shadow," Adele Tutter, Léon Wurmser, and their coauthors of this remarkably powerful volume bring the freshness of personal immediacy. Rather than third party reports, they tell their own stories: the anguish of loss, the pain of trauma, the struggle to transcend being bereft through movements of memory, fresh growth of identity, and the creation of art. Here, it all is present, specific and alive, not abstract and detached.  Authors already known for their scholarship now bring to their statements that special tenderness that comes from naked vulnerability. The result is a work of rare significance, one that is beautifully written and as engagingly compelling to read as a fine novel, yet one that advances appreciably our understanding. These voices describe humanity, not mere pathology. These voices will echo within, and they will last. — Warren Poland (Melting the Darkness: The Dyad and Principles of Clinical Practice)