Skip to main content
Select Source:

Suffering

SUFFERING

Suffering is the result of a feeling of alienation and insurmountable ambivalence; being a defensive attitude, its aim is the reduction of anxiety.

When Sigmund Freud asserts in Civilization and Its Discontents (1930a) that "the three sources from which our suffering comes" are "our own body. . . the external world. . . and our relations to other men" (pp. 86, 87), he could not make it clearer that human suffering opens up the entire field of psychopathology. The classical medical tradition has always sought to name the condition that causes the patient to suffer, thus to satisfy the patient's wish for their suffering to be less mysterious. Psychoanalysis escapes this preoccupation with diagnosis in that it demonstrates the ubiquity of a suffering that is at once undergone and created by the subject.

If suffering marks the entry into the treatment, the orientation of the treatment itself is towards a demonstration of how this suffering is provoked by the individual subject, in the name of a particular search for pleasure "in a different place" (Laplanche, Jean, 1976 [1970], p. 104). Suffering is thus not only the source of the complaint, but also the necessary lever of its own mobilization and even its own transcendence by the treatment.

In the tradition of Freud's work on "Mourning and Melancholia" (1916-17g [1915]), Melanie Klein (1935) treated accession to the depressive position as a fecund moment in the development of the child's object-relationships and the harbinger of the processes of symbolization. The same intimate connection between suffering and thought-processes informs Christian David's notion that man is in a sense "destined to suffer": "We cannot avoid being permanently confronted by separation and loss, by absence, by intersubjective and intrapsychic splits whether fantasied or actual.. . . If the psyche drew no strength from its own division, it would no doubt be unable to tolerate this state of affairs for long and would be liable to disintegrate at the first jolt" (1983).

Interpretation during the treatment depends largely on the effectiveness of a process of working-through, toward the relief of suffering. As arduous as this work may be for those who embark on it, they feel motivated to do so by a wish to live better, even to be "cured." It is by no means certain that insight leads to cure. Analysts are only too well aware of the effects of the repetition compulsion and of primary masochism, only too familiar with clinical pictures that lie beyond the reach of the regulatory mechanism of the pleasure-unpleasure principle. The "work of the negative" may even become indistinguishable from what is irreducible or radically unthinkable due to the opacity of sufferingmerging, in effect, with what Jean-Bertrand Pontalis (1981) calls the principle of pain, jouissance, or agony (in the sense of Donald Winnicott's "primitive agonies" [1974]): "The logic of unpleasure/pleasure seems to give way to, or even to be completely overwhelmed by a logic of despair that reduces our logic, that of the primary as much as that of the secondary processes, to despair."

Drina Candilis-Huisman

See also: Autism; Breakdown; "Confusion of Tongues between Adults and the Child"; Cure; Failure neurosis; Guilt, feeling of; Helplessness; Hypochondria; Masochism; Need for punishment; Negative, work of; Negative therapeutic reaction; Pain; Passion; Pleasure in thinking; Primitive agony; Psychoanalytic treatment; Psychotic potential; Self-mutilation in children; Sadism; Self-punishment; Traumatic neurosis.

Bibliography

David, Christian. (1983). Souffrance, plaisir et pensée, un mixte indissociable. In Souffrance, plaisir et pensée. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

Freud, Sigmund. (1916-17g [1915]). Mourning and melancholia. SE, 14: 237-258.

. (1930a). Civilization and its discontents. SE, 21: 57-145.

Klein, Melanie. (1975). Contribution to the psychogenesis of manic-depressive states. In Love, guilt and reparation and other works, 1921-1945 (The writings of Melanie Klein, vol. 1), London: Hogarth/Institute of Psycho-Analysis; New York: Delacorte/Seymour Lawrence. (Original work published 1935)

Laplanche, Jean. (1976 [1970]). Life and death in psychoanalysis. (Jeffrey Mehlman, Trans.) Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Pontalis, Jean-Bertrand. (1981). Non, deux fois non. Nouvelle Revue de PsychanalySE, 24.

Winnicott, Donald W. (1974). Fear of breakdown. International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 1, 103-7.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Suffering." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Suffering." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/suffering

"Suffering." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/suffering

Suffering

618. Suffering

  1. aloe symbol of suffering. [Flower Symbolism: Jobes, 71]
  2. Andersonville horrible Civil War prison where 12,926 Union soldiers died. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 18]
  3. Bataan site of U.S.-Filipino army death march (1943). [Am. Hist.: EB, I: 867868]
  4. Black hole of Calcutta 146 Britishers imprisoned in small, stifling room (1756). [Br. Hist.: Harbottle, 4546]
  5. Chiron centaur, gave up his immortality in order to end the intolerable suffering accidentally inflicted by one of Heracles poisoned arrows. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 194]
  6. Concentration Camps where millions of Jews were starved, experimented on, and exterminated by Nazis (19391945). [Eur. Hist.: Misc.]
  7. Gethsemane garden east of Jerusalem where Jesus suffered in anguished fatigue. [N.T.: Matthew 26:36; Mark 14:32]
  8. Hiroshima where the atomic bomb was dropped (August 6, 1945). [Am. Hist.: Fuller, III, 626]
  9. Io having been changed into a heifer by Zeus, pestered by gadfly sent by Hera. [Gk. Myth.: Espy, 292]
  10. J.B . Jobs trials in modern setting and idiom. [Am. Lit.: J.B. ]
  11. Job beset with calamities. [O.T.: Job 1:1322; 2:610]
  12. Mauperin, Renée undergoes lingering and anguished death from guilt. [Fr. Lit.: Renée Mauperin ]
  13. Orestes persecuted and tormented by Furies. [Gk. Myth.: Wheeler, 271; Gk. Lit.: The Eumenides ]
  14. Philoctetes Greek hero, bitten by a serpent, suffers agonies for ten years. [Gk. Drama: Sophocles Philoctetes in Magill III, 741]
  15. prisoner of Chillon chained for years in a damp, dark dungeon with his brothers, watches them die. [Br. Lit.: Byron The Prisoner of Chillon in Benét, 817]
  16. Prometheus chained to rock while vulture fed on his liver. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 221]
  17. Raft of the Medusa, The realistically portrays anguished ships crew. [Fr. Art: Daniel, 166]
  18. Smith, Winston beaten and tortured with rats for conspiring against the totalitarian regime. [Br. Lit.: George Orwell 1984]
  19. Tantalus condemned to Tartarus with food and water always just out of reach; hence, tantalize. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 253]
  20. Valley Forge winter quarters of Washingtons underfed, under-clothed Continental army (1778). [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 519]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Suffering." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Suffering." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/suffering

"Suffering." Allusions--Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/suffering

Suffering

Suffering

See Evil and Suffering

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Suffering." Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Suffering." Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/suffering

"Suffering." Encyclopedia of Science and Religion. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/suffering

Suffering

Suffering: see THEODICY.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Suffering." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Suffering." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/suffering

"Suffering." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/suffering

suffering

suffering •handspring • hamstring • herring •headspring • wellspring •airing, ballbearing, bearing, Behring, Bering, caring, daring, fairing, hardwearing, pairing, paring, raring, sparing, Waring, wearing •talebearing • childbearing •wayfaring • seafaring • cheeseparing •time-sharing • mainspring • keyring •gee-string • watch spring • offspring •boring, flooring, Goring, riproaring, roaring, scoring, shoring •drawstring • goalscoring •outpouring • bowstring • shoestring •bullring •auctioneering, clearing, earring, electioneering, engineering, gearing, orienteering, privateering, shearing •God-fearing • puppeteering •firing, retiring, uninspiring, untiring, wiring •during, mooring, reassuring, Turing •posturing • restructuring •meandering • rendering •pondering, wandering •ordering • maundering •plundering, thundering, wondering •offering • suffering • fingering •scaremongering • hankering •flickering, Pickering •tinkering • hammering • glimmering •unmurmuring • tampering •whimpering • whispering •smattering, unflattering •earthshattering • schoolmastering •Kettering • self-catering • wittering •quartering, watering •faltering • roistering • muttering •gathering • woolgathering •blithering •flavouring (US flavoring), unwavering •quivering •manoeuvring (US maneuvering) •covering • wallcovering •Goering, stirring, unerring

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"suffering." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"suffering." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/suffering

"suffering." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/suffering