A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

By Sigmund Freud | Go to book overview

TWENTY-SIXTH LECTURE

GENERAL THEORY OF THE NEUROSES

The Libido Theory and Narcism

REPEATEDLY in the past and more recently we have dealt with the distinction between the ego instincts and the sexual instincts. At first, suppression taught us that the two may be flatly opposed to each other, that in the struggle the sexual instincts suffer apparent defeat and are forced to obtain satisfaction by other regressive methods, and so find the compensation for defeat in their invulnerability. After that we learned that at the outset both have a different relation to the educator, Nesessity, so that they do not develop in the same manner and do not enter into the same relationship with the principle of reality. We come to realize that the sexual instincts are much more closely allied to the emotional condition of fear than the ego instincts. This result appears incomplete only in one respect, which, however, is most important. For further evidence we shall mention the significant fact that non-satisfaction of hunger and thirst, the two most elementary instincts of self-preservation, never result in their reversal into anxiety, while the transformation of unsatisfied libido into fear is, as we have heard, one of the best known and most frequently observed phenomena.

No one can contest our perfect justification in separating the ego from sexual instincts. It is affirmed by the existence of sexual desire, which is a very special activity of the individual. The only question is, what significance shall we give to this distinction, how decisive is it? The answer will depend upon the results of our observations; on how far the sexual instincts, in their psychological and somatic manifestations, behave differently from the others that are opposed to them; on how important are the consequences which result from these differences. We have, of course, no motive whatever for insisting upon

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