Jacques Hassoun (1936-1999) was a French psychologist and proponent of the ideas of Jacques Lacan. Hassoun developed a theory of depression and, in his later years, wrote a history of Egyptian Jews, Histoire des Juifs du Nil (Minerve, 1990).
Hassoun was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1936 and settled in France in 1954 to pursue his studies; he ultimately remained there.
Hassoun died from a brain tumor at age 63, in Paris.
For Hassoun, melancholy (or depression) stems from an individual's desire for some undesignated other.
In Hassoun's model, this unclear missing object is their mother's breasts. The reasoning goes as follows: If the mother withholds her breast or forces a premature weaning, the child cannot naturally mourn this inevitable loss, nor move naturally toward the forging of relationships with other objects (loved ones, etc.), the successors to the breast.
To ensure a child's proper functioning in the world, a mother must "give up" her breast to her child, allowing it to be converted from an emblem of her sexuality to a transmitter of maternal care. In time, the child will give up the breast of their own accord.
Some say Hassoun's theories are overly reliant on psychoanalysis and, as with Freud's theories, overly deterministic and lacking evidence.
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