Basic Psychoanalytic Concepts on the Theory of Instincts

Basic Psychoanalytic Concepts on the Theory of Instincts

Basic Psychoanalytic Concepts on the Theory of Instincts

Basic Psychoanalytic Concepts on the Theory of Instincts

Synopsis

This volume describes in condensed but detailed form Freuds development of the theory of instincts. As is well known, Freud reformulated and amplified his theory of instincts at several points during his lifetime. In this volume the reader will be able to follow the development of Freuds thought from his initial discovery of the duality of'sexual' and 'ego instincts' and his recognition of the fundamental importance of the aggressive forces in human nature and behaviour, to the formulation of his theories regarding life and death.

Excerpt

The series of publications of which the present volume forms a part, will be welcomed by all those readers who are concerned with the history of psychoanalytic concepts and interested to follow the vicissitudes of their fate through the theoretical, clinical and technical writings of psychoanalytic authors. On the one hand, these fates may strike us as being very different from each other. On the other hand, it proves not too difficult to single out some common trends and to explore the reasons for them.

There are some terms and concepts which served an important function for psychoanalysis in its earliest years because of their being simple and all-embracing such as for example the notion of a 'complex'. Even the lay public understood more or less easily that what was meant thereby was any cluster of impulses, emotions, thoughts, etc. which have their roots in the unconscious and, exerting their influence from there, give rise to anxiety, defences and symptom formation in the conscious mind. Accordingly, the term was used widely as a form of psychological short-hand. 'Father-Complex', 'Mother-Complex', 'Guilt-Complex', 'Inferiority-Complex', etc. became familiar notions. Nevertheless, in due course, added psychoanalytical findings about the child's relationship to his parents, about the early mother-infant tie and its consequences, about the complexities of lacking self-esteem and feelings of insufficiency and inferiority demanded more precise conceptualization. the very omnibus nature of the term could not but lead to its, at least partial, abandonment. All that remained from it were the terms 'Oedipus Complex' to designate the experiences centred around the triangular relationships of the phallic phase, and 'Castration-Complex' for the anxieties, repressed wishes, etc. concerning the loss or lack of the male sexual organ.

If, in the former instance, a general concept was split up to make room for more specific meanings, in other instances concepts took turns in the opposite direction. After starting out as concrete, well- defined descriptions of circumscribed psychic events, they were applied by many authors to an ever-widening circle of phenomena until their connotation became increasingly vague and imprecise and until finally special efforts had to be made to re-define them . . .

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