The two faces of concept of emotional expression in the emotional work of mourning

  • André Wamba, Ph.D. University of Montreal
  • Johanne Collin, Ph.D University of Montreal
  • Issack Biyong, MD University of Ottawa


Is it possible to consider, as part of the emotional work, the two faces of the concept of emotional expression? On the one hand, the verbal expressive component: involving the expression of emotions by the explosion of the grief by the tears, and mourning stories sung and danced, as it appears in the classic psychoanalytic and anthropological literature. On the other hand, the expressive nonverbal component: suppose the expression of emotions through repression and inhibition of affects, as shown by the thanatologists whose work are based on the traditional referents - ritualized emotions; or those whose work are based on postmodern referents - not ritualized emotions. These two components of emotional work are discussed here in this paper: from a comparison of empirical cases drawn from the scientific literature on reactions to the announcement of death in two social contexts - the Bamiléké (Cameroon) and Quebec societies (Quebec, Canada); from the theoretical supports of the concept of emotional expression as they appear in psychoanalysis (Freud), in anthropology (Mauss and Durkheim) and sociology of emotions (Turner et al.,). First, we show the conceptual limits of the concept of expression and how these limits, from the direction given by Freud and Mauss, have conditioned and guided the further development of the concept both among classical and modern thanatologists. Secondly, we show that the two components of the concept pursue, in the contemporary modern sociability, the same purpose: to reaffirm the rules managing emotions, which underlie, in every society, the ideological and political, socioeconomic historical, cultural and scientific positions, regarding the monopoly of the proposal in the best way to express emotions.

Key words : Verbal and nonverbal expression of emotions, mourning work, emotional work, social rules, bamiléké and Québec societies, normatif change

May 23, 2017
How to Cite
WAMBA, André; COLLIN, Johanne; BIYONG, Issack. The two faces of concept of emotional expression in the emotional work of mourning. Journal of Psychotraumatology and Medition, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 1, p. 148-159, may 2017. ISSN 2504-2033. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 may 2019.