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Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 369–383 | Cite as

Mother, Melancholia, and Art in Erik H. Erikson’s Toys and Reasons

  • Donald Capps
Psychological Exploration

Abstract

In three earlier articles (2007a, 2007b, 2007c), I focused on the theme of the relationship of melancholia and the mother, and suggested that the melancholic self may experience humor, play, and dreams as restorative resources. In this article, I want to make a similar case, based on Erik H. Erikson’s Toys and Reasons (1977), for art (in this particular case, a painting of the Annunciation). I have made a similar case for the restorative role of art in articles on Leonard da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (Capps, Pastoral Psychology, 53, 107–137, 2004) and James McNeill Whistler’s painting of his mother (Capps, Pastoral Psychology, 2007d). In the present article, however, I focus on the special biographical circumstances in Erikson’s own development of a melancholy self and the painting he discusses in Toys and Reasons, thereby suggesting that individuals may find a particular work of art especially relevant to their own experience of melancholy. I conclude with Erikson’s testimonial at the memorial service of a colleague and friend who translated her own melancholy into her service to others.

Keywords

Erik H. Erikson Mother–melancholia Greeting ceremony Art Annunciation Memorial service 

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Copyright information

© Blanton-Peale Institute 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Practical TheologyPrinceton Theological SeminaryPrincetonUSA

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