September Issue: Beyond Pathology–melancholy and mourning in infertility

Black and white photo of the author, long hair over one shoulder, slight smile.From September’s issue, we are happy to preview the work of Marjolein de Boer: Beyond pathology: women’s lived experiences of melancholy and mourning in infertility treatment. Marjolein is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Tilburg, The Netherlands. Her research focuses on subjective experiences and cultural representations of gendered illnesses and medicalization processes, such as infertility, breast cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and menopause. In her studies, she combines qualitative empirical research with philosophical reflection.

Read the full article on the Medical Humanities journal website.



Melancholy and mourning are traditionally understood within a pathological framework. That is, melancholy is perceived as an ailing response to significant loss, and mourning as a healing experience. This article explores melancholy and mourning beyond this ailing/healing logic. It does by asking women who are in infertility treatment what it means for them to actually live with and through melancholy and mourning. These women reveal that they desperately desire their lost time as a pregnant woman, their lost love life and/or their lost future as (not) a mother. By (re)narrating their pasts, some of these women attempt to escape this melancholy and mourn their losses. At first glance, such stories seem to fit the logic of melancholy as ailing and mourning as curative. However, this article reveals that these women’s melancholy and mourning is inherently ambiguous. For them, melancholy instigates a joyous painfulness, something that is or is not overcome through the agonising exertion of mourning.

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