The distinction between melancholia and mourning is elaborated by LaCapra’s version of that distinction into ‘acting out’ and ‘working through’

The distinction between melancholia and mourning is elaborated by LaCapra’s version of that distinction into ‘acting out’ and ‘working through’. Acting out or melancholia is a state of mind in which the victim experiences a distortion of tenses (past, present, future). The melancholic is feeling trapped in his traumatic past experience and keeps reliving this traumatic event. A traumatic event is often so violent and disruptive in nature that it cannot be fitted into existing referential frameworks. As a result, survivors of trauma cannot grasp the magnitude of what has happened to them and confuses the present with the past. The next step is to act that past out in a post-traumatic present. On the other hand, working through or mourning enables a traumatised to gradually develop a narrative memory of the event and separate it from the present. It allows them to remember what happened to them at a certain point in the past, while at the same time realising that they are living now. In the following, two of the three sufferers of trauma in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Oskar Schell and his grandmother – will be shown to more or less adhere to the ‘mixture’ of acting out and working through.