Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Beyond the Pleasure Principle


In 1915 at the University of Vienna 60-year-old Sigmund Freud delivered these lectures on psychoanalysis, pointing to the interplay of unconscious and conscious forces within individual psyches.


by Gregory Zilboorg, M.D.

A QUESTION which seems natural and almost unavoidable arises: What can one say about a book, and a little one at that, which is forty years old, and which is supposedly not one of the most impressive or "spectacular" bits of Freud's many writings? The question presupposes the implied answer that forty years even in our swift-moving world is a long time, that the book in question is therefore more or less superannuated and deserves but a respectful historical glance before we put it back on the shelf to gather more dust.

It is obvious that the above is a rhetorical way of saying that forty years after its appearance and twenty years after Freud's death, Beyond the Pleasure Principle still deserves considerable attention, and that the reader would do well if he reads it with studious curiosity. Of recent years we have become so accustomed to the atmosphere of controversy which surrounds psychoanalysis and Freud that we have almost lost our capacity to pick up a book on psychoanalysis without wanting to know in advance whether the book is for or against it, or, if it is for it, whether it is for Freud or for Jung, or, if it is Freudian, whether it is orthodox or neo- Freudian. If we dared to be frank with ourselves, we would have no difficulty in admitting that our judgment of psychoanalysis is actually fragmentary and not too profound. We could also admit that some sort of partisanship possesses us, and that therefore we are preoccupied with "taking sides" long before we get acquainted with the very first elements of psychoanalysis and the many-sidedness of the subject.

It is because of the various prejudices which have inculcated themselves into psychoanalytical and nonpsychoanalytical circles that it is pertinent to invite both the initiated and the uninitiated reader to suspend his fragmentary judgment . . .

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