CHAPTER VI
INSTINCTS IN PSYCHO-ANALYSIS

IN attempting a critical assessment of the account of Instinct given in Psycho-Analytic theory, we are met, at once, with many difficulties, some of which make necessary certain preliminary remarks.

The first difficulty is that the literature of Psycho-Analysis has by now assumed such vast proportions. In so far as the psycho-analytic theory of the instincts is concerned, however, it does not seem that any great changes have been made to the initial theory of Freud, and because of this we shall be content to examine the arguments of Freud alone. Freud's views on the subject of the instincts have been reviewed from time to time (for example, by T. W. Mitchell1 and by Ernest Jones2) but it does not appear that they have anywhere been subjected to detailed criticism. In this chapter we shall undertake such a criticism, and here we shall slightly change our method of discussion. In treating Comparative Ethology, we minimised our criticism, aiming at a clear summary presentation of the ethological account, and leaving any critical remarks for a later chapter. In discussing the psycho-analytic account of instinct, it will be more convenient to state our criticisms as the argument proceeds. This procedure will avoid the difficulties which would be involved in first tracing the changing course of Freud's theory, and then, in another place, undertaking a parallel critical argument.

A second difficulty is the objection, sometimes encountered, that only those who have had actual experience of Psycho-Analysis are in a position to understand psycho-analytic theories. Criticisms offered by those without such experience may be completely misplaced. In the face of this 'hands off!' argument much could be said. It is sufficient, however, to point out that psycho-analytic speculations are open to at least two legitimate lines of criticism.

In the first place, the logic of such speculative lines of thought is open to criticism, and whilst such a criticism would not be injurious to the facts on which a particular speculation was based, it might be sufficient

____________________
1
T. W. Mitchell, Problems in Psychopathology, Chapter V.
2
Ernest Jones, "'Psycho-Analysis and the Instincts'", British Journal of Psychology, January 1936, pp. 273-288.

-168-

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