Thursday, October 1, 2009

Freud’s View On The Death Instinct

     Freud originally divided the instincts into two categories:
(1) the self-preservation or ego instincts; and
(2) the sexual instincts.

The historical features in the development of his thinking are clearly outlined in Thompson not concern us here. The end result was a division into the life instinct, Eros, and the death instinct, Thanatos. The life instinct included libido and part of the ego instincts; the death instinct was a new and separate concept, fully as important as Eros. The death instinct, active immediately upon birth, refers to the tendency of organic life to return to its prior inorganic state. The process of living involves tension and the drive toward death aims at release of this tension. By this concept Freud hoped to account for self-destructive urges (e.g., suicide), aggression toward others (e.g., war), and the compulsive tendency to repeat earlier painful experiences. All mental phenomena are thus explainable in terms of fusions or mixtures of the two basic instincts.

Source : Thompson, Clara (1950) Psychoanalysis: Evolution and Development. Hermitage, New York

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