Medium 9781855757851

On Freud's "Beyond the Pleasure Principle"

Views: 1137
Ratings: (0)

Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle constitutes a major landmark and a real turning point in the evolution of psychoanalytic theory. Pushing aside the primacy of the tension-discharge-gratification model of mental dynamics, this work introduced the notion of a "daemonic force" within all human beings that slowly but insistently seeks psychic inactivity, inertia, and death. Politely dismissed by some as a pseudo-biological speculation and rapturously espoused by others as a bold conceptual advance, "death instinct" became a stepping stone to the latter conceptualizations of mind's attacks on itself, negative narcissism, addiction to near-death, and the utter destruction of meaning in some clinical situations. The concept also served as a bridge between the quintessentially Western psychoanalysis and the Eastern perspectives on life and death.These diverse and rich connotations of the proposal are elucidated in On Freud's "Beyond the Pleasure Principle". Other consequences of Freud's 1920 paper - namely, the marginalization of ego instincts and the "upgrading" of aggression in the scheme of things - are also addressed. The editors have gathered a body of distinguished psychoanalysts from around the world to argue, discuss, elaborate upon, and advance Freud's path-breaking contribution. The result is a book of rare intelligence, charm, and clinical significance.Contributors: Salman Akhtar, Ira Brenner, Fatima Caropreso, Michael Feldman, Betty Joseph, Otto Kernberg, Joshua Levy, Ashok Nagpal, Mary Kay O'Neil, Henri Parens, Richard Theisen Simanke, W. Craig Tomlinson, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

List price: $28.99

Your Price: $23.19

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

10 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

1: Jenseits and beyond: teaching Freud's late work

ePub

W. Craig Tomlinson

The title of this chapter addresses my experience teaching Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g) not only in isolation, but also in context, in particular as a gateway to all of Freud's writing after that date. There are several reasons for this approach.

First, of all of Freud's texts, this watershed work ranks as an equal among firsts on the list of the classics of psychoanalytic literature. Just as The Ego and the Id (1923b) and Civilization and Its Discontents (1930a) would be unthinkable without the second dual instinct theory which Freud introduces in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, any student of psychoanalysis who had never read those later texts would be left with a sorry appraisal of the earlier work, among other deficits. The implications of Beyond the Pleasure Principle as delineated first by Freud in the 1920s and then by others were, in fact, monumental.

Second, Beyond the Pleasure Principle was as important within the nascent psychoanalytic community of Freud's time as it was pivotal in Freud's own development as a thinker. Thus to teach it requires far more than the usual emphasis on the afterlife of a written text. We study all classic works of psychoanalysis from a particular historical vantage point, with biases informed by past and current debates, controversies, and allegiances. Recent Freud scholarship has made us more aware than ever of how important the social, clinical, and scientific context of the early psychoanalytic community was in the development of Freud's theory (see, among others, Grosskurth, 1991; Jacobi, 1983; Makari, 2008; Roazen, 1975), particularly in its later decades. The monolithic image of Freud as a thinker who evolved in splendid isolation has undergone serious and much needed modification. To appreciate his achievement fully, we need to understand the context in which his contributions were written.

 

2: Life and death in Freudian metapsychology: a reappraisal of the second instinctual dualism

ePub

Fátima Caropreso & Richard Theisen Simanke

In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud (1920g) introduced his second instinctual dualism hypothesis. Until then he had argued for the existence of a duality of self-preservation and sexual instincts. This duality had been challenged for some time, mainly since he articulated the concept of narcissism. In 1920, sexual and self-preservation instincts once and for all become part of the same type of instinct-the life instinct. And then Freud established another opposition-the life instinct and the death instinct.

Ernest Jones (1957) maintains that, in spite of Freud's tremendous prestige among psychoanalysts, few readily accepted the new theses presented in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Indeed, the concept of a death instinct unleashed a great many polemics among psychoanalysts. Monzani (1989) observes that “the reactions to this paper were disparate, however the majority had one point in common: a sort of 'theoretical shudder', an uneasiness, and a frank negativity” (p. 147). In addition to Fenichel, Reich, Brun, and others, even Ernest Jones appeared among those who declared themselves to be clearly against the notion of a death instinct. Such a reaction to this concept from these psychoanalysts shows that they regarded it as something entirely new on Freud's part. It did not seem to be clearly consistent with the rest of Freud's theorization. Indeed, it seemed both unjustified and unnecessary. It could have been, as Monzani (1989) says, a slip-up, one of Freud's idiosyncrasies or philosophical or metaphysical inclinations that, in essence, would have nothing to do with psychoanalysis. Similar positions can be found in the work of more recent authors.

 

3: An unusual manifestation of repetition compulsion in traumatized patients

ePub

Ira Brenner

Only believers, who demand that science shall be a substitute for the catechism that they have given up, will blame an investigator for developing or even transforming his views.

Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g), p. 63

Shaken by the Great War himself, Sigmund Freud's opening remarks to the Budapest Congress in 1919 addressed the incompleteness of psychoanalytic knowledge as it related to the war neuroses. Dissatisfied with attributing the unimaginable carnage to repressed sexuality or anal sadism, he had to reconsider the ideas already put forth by colleagues such as Adler (1910), Stekel (1911), Spielrein (1912), and Reik (1911) about the role of aggression in the human psyche. He needed to expand his theory so “Rather implausibly, Freud also posited a 'war-like' 'I' that created a lust for destruction” (Makari, 2008, p. 315). This line of thought evolved into the “third step in the theory of the instincts, which … cannot lay claim to the same degree of certainty as the two earlier ones-the extension of the concept of sexuality and the hypothesis of narcissism” (Freud, 1920g, p. 59).

 

4. The dream in Beyond the Pleasure Principle and beyond

ePub

Joshua Levy

This chapter compares Freud's traumatic dream theory in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g) to his theory presented in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900a). Freud regarded these two dream theories as “independent”. In an attempt to find the basis for their coexistence, four dream hypotheses are re-examined (the manifest and latent content, the day residue, the dream's motivations, and the dream-work) and their place in each of Freud's dream theories. Clinical material illustrates the relationship of the two theories.

Freud's two dream theories

In Beyond the Pleasure Principle Freud focused on the clinical manifestations of his patients' fixation on their traumatic situation, observed in repeated dreams and compulsive acting out, resulting in repeated failures. A second theory, radically “independent” of his original theory, was developed. Whereas in his first theory Freud stated that “a dream is a disguised fulfilment of a (suppressed or repressed) wish” (Freud, 1900a, p. 160), in his second dream theory he said:

 

5. Does the death-instinct-based theory of aggression hold up?

ePub

Henri Parens

Many who speak of Freud assert him to have been dogmatic; they fail to credit him for his caution and occasional declaration of awareness that what he asserts is not set with certainty in his own mind but that, rather, clinical findings at times stirred in him speculations he found difficult to dismiss. He did so twice in his highly controversial “Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes” (1925j),1 and he had also done so five years earlier in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g) in declaring: “What follows is speculation, often far-fetched speculation, which the reader will consider or dismiss according to his individual predilection” (p. 25). This follows upon his dismissing the highly plausible likelihood that the compulsion to repeat follows from an effort to make passive into active, which, in turn, might be reflective of an instinct to master (p. 16). Why, he wondered, would the child repeat, repeatedly in fact, an event that causes him pain or anxiety? What makes him seek such pain or a situation he experiences as dangerous? Driven by factors we can only speculate about-as Max Schur has done with regard to Freud's nearly life-long preoccupation with death (1972)-Freud developed a strikingly circuitous argument in 1920 to assert that the compulsion to repeat is reflective of an inner need to return to one's inorganic state. It is essential to underscore that Freud's theory of aggression made the destruction of others secondary to a primary need to destroy oneself, thrust by the death instinct to seek return to one's original inorganic state.

 

6. The concept of the death drive: a clinical perspective

ePub

Otto Kernberg

I believe that it is quite evident that the two major controversies that have been raised by Freud's monumental discoveries are his theory of libido or the sexual drive and his theory of the death drive, representing, respectively, the struggle between life as centred in erotic impulses and aggression. Freud considered the two drives as the fundamental motivational principles determining unconscious conflict and symptom formation (Freud, 1920g). In a broader sense, they were what drives human beings towards the search for gratification and happiness, on the one hand, and to severely destructive and self-destructive aggression, on the other. Freud's stress on the infantile origins of sexual orientation, infantile sexuality, and particularly its sadomasochistic components, have raised shock, opposition, and efforts at denial in the general culture (Freud, 1905d). The death drive runs deeply against more optimistic views of human nature, based on the assumption that if severe frustrations or trauma were absent in early development, then aggression would not be a major human problem.

 

7. Addiction to near-death

ePub

Betty Joseph

There is a very malignant type of self-destructiveness, which we see in a small group of our patients and which is, I think, in the nature of an addiction-an addiction to near-death. It dominates these patients' lives; for long periods it dominates the way they bring material to the analysis and the type of relationship they establish with the analyst; it dominates their internal relationships, their so-called thinking, and the way they communicate with themselves. It is not a drive towards a Nirvana type of peace or relief from problems, and it has to be sharply differentiated from this.

The picture that these patients present is, I am sure, a familiar one: in their external lives these patients get more and more absorbed into hopelessness and involved in activities that seem destined to destroy them physically as well as mentally-for example, considerable over-working, almost no sleep, avoiding eating properly or secretly over-eating if the need is to lose weight, drinking more and more, and perhaps cutting off from relationships. In other patients this type of addiction is probably less striking in their actual living but equally important in their relationship with the analyst and the analysis. Indeed, in all these patients the place where the pull towards near-death is most obvious is in the transference. As I want to illustrate in this chapter, these patients bring material to analysis in a very particular way: for example, they may speak in a way that seems calculated to communicate or create despair and a sense of hopelessness in themselves and in the analyst, although apparently wanting understanding. It is not just that they make progress, forget it, lose it, or take no responsibility for it. They do show a strong though frequently silent negative therapeutic reaction, but this negative therapeutic reaction is only one part of a much broader and more insidious picture. The pull towards despair and death in such patients is not, as I have said, a longing for peace and freedom from effort; indeed, as I sorted out with one such patient, just to die, although attractive, would be no good. There is a felt need to know and to have the satisfaction of seeing oneself being destroyed.

 

8. Manifestations of the death instinct in the consulting room

ePub

Michael Feldman

In his paper on “The “Uncanny”, Freud wrote,

… It is possible to recognize the dominance in the unconscious mind of a “compulsion to repeat” proceeding from the instinctual impulses and probably inherent in the very nature of the instincts-a compulsion powerful enough to overrule the pleasure principle, leading to certain aspects of the mind their daemonic character. [Freud, 1919h, p. 238; emphasis added]

In Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g), Freud continued this exploration of the forces that drive and maintain certain striking patterns of behaviour, where the more obvious aims of the relief of tension or “unpleasure” and the achievement of “pleasure” do not seem to apply. Freud, the astute clinician, struggled to account for the fact that “The compulsion to repeat … recalls from the past experiences which include no possibility of pleasure, and which can never, even long ago, have brought satisfaction even to instinctual impulses which have since been repressed” (p. 20). He linked such observations with dreams in traumatic neuroses and the impulse that leads children to play certain repetitive games. He raised the question of whether the child's repetition of the unpleasant experience of play carried “a yield of pleasure of another sort but none the less a direct one“ (italics added) (p. 16).

 

9. A Hindu reading of Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle

ePub

Ashok Nagpal

Freud's celebrated if controversial work Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g) inaugurated a radical revision of his earlier theory of dualism between the pleasure principle and the reality principle. With the introduction of the death-instinct concept, Freud moved away from a theoretical position he had built up with painstaking care. That this was not a whimsical idea is evident in the consistency with which references to the death instinct appear in his post-1920 writings (Freud, 1923b, 1930a, 1940a [1938]). Beyond the Pleasure Principle also reveals a Freud who seems to muster every source at his command-clinical, biological, and philosophical-to persuade the reader of his new discovery.

In his work, Freud reassesses the pleasure principle and places it amidst a new matrix where unpleasure comes about not only through the reality principle but also in the very dynamics of the mental apparatus through its necessary conflicts and dissensions. In the early post-Freudian era, the fiercest battle was over the death instinct. Though Melanie Klein (1933, 1935) and her followers (Joseph, 1982-chapter 7, this volume; Segal, 1956, 1974; Spillius, 1988a, 1988b) championed it, others (Hartmann, 1939; Lear, 2005; Marcovitz, 1973; Waelder, 1956) constituting the majority opinion in psychoanalysis, saw the death instinct as a speculative philosophical effort by an aging Freud that was insufficiently rooted in clinical experience and bypassed the need for a psychoanalytic postulation on human aggression. Could it be said that Freud “jumped over” an obstacle here by letting his intellect over-think without the necessary engagement within a relational frame such as is availed of in clinical work? In other words, if Freud had had an analyst take care of the anxieties erupting in his life, would he still have propounded the death instinct?

 

10. The trauma of lost love in psychoanalysis

ePub

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

Most historians agree that in the history of psychoanalysis Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g) marks a juncture, even perhaps the juncture. Until 1920, no one could be a Freudian without subscribing to his libido theory-in its evolving formulation-and to the centrality of the sexual instinctual drive in the aetiology of the neuroses. Non-subscribers left the movement. Adler's and Jung's withdrawals became like traumas that Freud kept trying to master in writing about them. But in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud himself brought into question the defining position of the libido theory. He disagreed with himself, and the disagreements his interior debate provoked among his followers have, to this day, not ceased reverberating. But, because the Master's revision was so problematic and became no less so as he elaborated his new theory in some later works while rejecting it in others, his followers have felt free to disagree without needing to become schismatics. Beyond the Pleasure Principle was more a statement of intense theoretical need than a Dictat.

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000020263
Isbn
9781780492001
File size
373 KB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata