Anatomy of Regret: From Death Instinct to Reparation and Symbolization through Vivid Clinical Cases
by Susan Kavaler-Adler, PhD, ABPP, NPsyA, D.Litt
Anatomy of Regret will provide clinical illustrations of how the conscious processing of regret through a developmental mourning process can create critical turning points towards character change and psychological health in terms of the “Love-Creativity Dialectic.”
The ability to feel conscious or ‘psychic’ regret is an important part of this navigation of aggression towards a developmental process of mourning primal object loss, and thus towards continuous psychological growth. Pivotal psychic changes essential to self transformation can be seen to evolve through the conscious engagement with one’s own formerly unconscious or dissociated regrets, to emerge into evocative and articulate descriptions of one’s own internal world. Interiority, compassion, self reflection, and self agency all evolve through a developmental progression (with backlash reactions along the way) of affectively engaged stages of mourning (my “developmental mourning”). Developmental mourning opens up a capacity for a psychic dialectic between one’s self reflective and rational self and one’s internal world of feelings, thoughts, needs, and all one’s spontaneous internal life.
‘Dr Kavaler-Adler’s newest contribution to psychoanalysis and social sciences heralds a giant step in theoretical contribution to reparative clinical outcomes with respect to developmental mourning and depression. While Anatomy of Regret creates new ground in her concept of mourning the grief of psychic regret, Dr Kavaler-Adler eloquently unpacks the gaps, biases and unfinished business of Kleinian theory, while at the same time acknowledging and clarifying Klein, Freud, Mahler, Winnicott, Balint, Fairbairn, Alexander, Bach, and Masterson’s contributions. She has written a primer for the study of traumatic developmental mourning. The Anatomy of Regret is a “tour de force” in psychoanalytic theory, rich in scholarship, packed with meaningful and
practical clinical case examples.
‘Dr Kavaler-Adler makes a fundamental contribution by uncovering a powerful component (perhaps the key) that accounts for vicissitudes of grief and of the mourning process: that it is vital to make conscious that which is unconscious – understanding one’s own anger and aggression.