Beyond the Pleasure Principle (German: Jenseits des Lustprinzips) is a 1920 essay by Sigmund Freud that marks a major turning point in his theoretical approach. Previously, Freud attributed most human behavior to the sexual instinct (Eros or libido). With this essay, Freud went "beyond" the simple pleasure principle, developing his theory of drives with the addition of the death drive(s) (Todestrieb[e]) (often referred to as "Thanatos").
|Beyond the Pleasure Principle|
|Original title||Jenseits des Lustprinzips|
The essay describes humans as struggling between two opposing drives: Eros, which produces creativity, harmony, sexual connection, reproduction, and self-preservation; and Thanatos, which brings destruction, repetition, aggression, compulsion, and self-destruction.
In sections IV and V, Freud posits that the process of creating living cells binds energy and creates an imbalance. It is the pressure of matter to return to its original state which gives cells their quality of living. The process is analogous to the creation and exhaustion of a battery. This pressure for molecular diffusion can be called a "death-wish". The compulsion of the matter in cells to return to a diffuse, inanimate state extends to the whole living organism. Thus, the psychological death-wish is a manifestation of an underlying physical compulsion present in every cell.
Freud also stated the basic differences, as he saw them, between his approach and Carl Jung's, and summarized published research into basic drives (Section VI).
"Beyond the Pleasure Principle is a difficult text." As Ernest Jones, one of Freud's closest associates and a member of his Inner Ring, put it, "the train of thought [is] by no means easy to follow ... and Freud's views on the subject have often been considerably misinterpreted." 
What have been called the "two distinct frescoes or canti" of Beyond the Pleasure Principle break between sections III and IV. If, as Otto Fenichel remarked, Freud's "new [instinctual] classification has two bases, one speculative, and one clinical", thus far the clinical. In Freud's own words, the second section "is speculation, often far-fetched speculation, which the reader will consider or dismiss according to his individual predilection" — it has been noted that "in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud used that unpromising word "speculations" more than once".
Freud begins with "a commonplace then unchallenged in psychoanalytic theory: 'The course of mental events is automatically regulated by the pleasure principle ... a strong tendency toward the pleasure principle'". After considering the inevitable presence of unpleasant experiences in the life of the mind, he concludes the book's first section to the effect that the presence of such unpleasant experiences "does not contradict the dominance of the pleasure principle ... does not seem to necessitate any far-reaching limitation of the pleasure principle."
Freud proceeds to look for "evidence, for the existence of hitherto unsuspected forces 'beyond' the pleasure principle." He found exceptions to the universal power of the pleasure principle—"situations ... with which the pleasure principle cannot cope adequately"—in four main areas: children's games, as exemplified in his grandson's famous "fort-da" game; "the recurrent dreams of war neurotics ...; the pattern of self-injuring behaviour that can be traced through the lives of certain people ["fate neurosis"]; the tendency of many patients in psycho-analysis to act out over and over again unpleasant experiences of their childhood."
From these cases, Freud inferred the existence of motivations beyond the pleasure principle. Freud already felt in 1919 that he could safely postulate "the principle of a repetition compulsion in the unconscious mind, based upon instinctual activity and probably inherent in the very nature of the instincts—a principle powerful enough to overrule the pleasure-principle". In the first half of Beyond the Pleasure Principle, "a first phase, the most varied manifestations of repetition, considered as their irreducible quality, are attributed to the essence of drives" in precisely the same way.
Building on his 1914 article "Recollecting, Repeating and Working Through", Freud highlights how the "patient cannot remember the whole of what is repressed in him, and ... is obliged to repeat the repressed material as a contemporary experience instead of ... remembering it as something belonging to the past:" a "compulsion to repeat."
Freud still wanted to examine the relationship between repetition compulsion and the pleasure principle. Although compulsive behaviors evidently satisfied some sort of drive, they were a source of direct unpleasure. Somehow, "no lesson has been learnt from the old experience of these activities having led only to unpleasure. In spite of that, they are repeated, under pressure of a compulsion". Also noting repetitions in the lives of normal people—who appeared to be "pursued by a malignant fate or possessed by some daemonic power," likely alluding to the Latin motto errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum ("to err is human, to persist [in committing errors] is of the devil")—Freud concludes that the human psyche includes a compulsion to repeat that is independent of the pleasure principle.
Arguing that dreams in which one relives trauma serve a binding function in the mind, connected to repetition compulsion, Freud admits that such dreams are an exception to the rule that the dream is the fulfillment of a wish. Asserting that the first task of the mind is to bind excitations to prevent trauma (so that the pleasure principle does not begin to dominate mental activities until the excitations are bound), he reiterates the clinical fact that for "a person in analysis ... the compulsion to repeat the events of his childhood in the transference evidently disregards the pleasure principle in every way".
Freud begins to look for analogies repetition compulsion in the "essentially conservative ... feature of instinctual life ... the lower we go in the animal scale the more stereotyped does instinctual behavior appear". Thereafter "a leap in the text can be noticed when Freud places the compulsion to repeat on an equal footing with 'an urge ... to restore an earlier state of things'" — ultimately that of the original inorganic condition. Declaring that "the aim of life is death" and "inanimate things existed before living ones", Freud interprets an organism's drive to avoid danger only as a way of avoiding a short-circuit to death: the organisms seeks to die in its own way. He thus found his way to his celebrated concept of the death instinct.
Thereupon, "Freud plunged into the thickets of speculative modern biology, even into philosophy, in search of corroborative evidence" — looking to "arguments of every kind, frequently borrowed from fields outside of psychoanalytic practice, calling to the rescue biology, philosophy, and mythology". He turned to prewar experiments on protozoa — of perhaps questionable relevance, even if it is not the case that 'his interpretation of the experiments on the successive generations of protozoa contains a fatal flaw'. The most that can perhaps be said is that Freud did not find "any biological argument which contradicts his dualistic conception of instinctual life", but at the same time, "as Jones (1957) points out, 'no biological observation can be found to support the idea of a death instinct, one which contradicts all biological principles'" either.
Freud then continued with a reference to "the harbour of Schopenhauer's philosophy"; but in groping for a return to the clinical he admitted that "it looks suspiciously as though we were trying to find a way out of a highly embarrassing situation at any price". Freud eventually decided that he could find a clinical manifestation of the death instinct in the phenomenon of masochism, "hitherto regarded as secondary to sadism ... and suggested that there could be a primary masochism, a self-injuring tendency which would be an indication of the death instinct". In a footnote he cited Sabina Spielrein admitting that "A considerable part of this speculation has been anticipated in a work which is full of valuable matter and ideas but is unfortunately not entirely clear to me: (Sabina Spielrein: Die Destruktion als Ursache des Werdens, Jahrbuch für Psychoanalyse, IV, 1912). She designates the sadistic component as 'destructive'." To then explain the sexual instinct as well in terms of a compulsion to repeat, Freud inserts a myth from Plato that humans are driven to reproduce in order to join together the sexes, which had once existed in single individuals who were both male and female — still "in utter disregard of disciplinary distinctions"; and admits again the speculative nature of his own ideas, "lacking a direct translation of observation into theory ... One may have made a lucky hit or one may have gone shamefully astray"'.
Nevertheless, with the libido or Eros as the life force finally set out on the other side of the repetition compulsion equation, the way was clear for the book's closing "vision of two elemental pugnacious forces in the mind, Eros and Thanatos, locked in eternal battle".
Freud's daughter Sophie died at the start of 1920, partway between Freud's first (1919) version and the version of Beyond the Pleasure Principle reworked and published in 1920. Freud insisted that the death had no relation to the contents of the book. In a July 18, 1920, letter to Max Eitingon, Freud wrote, "The Beyond is now finally finished. You will be able to confirm that it was half ready when Sophie lived and flourished". He had however already written (in June) to Ferenczi "that 'curious continuations' had turned up in it, presumably the part about the potential immortality of protozoa". Ernest Jones considers Freud's claim on Eitingon "a rather curious request ... [perhaps] an inner denial of his novel thoughts about death having been influenced by his depression over losing his daughter". Others have also wondered about "inventing a so-called death instinct — is this not one way of theorising, that is, disposing of — by means of a theory — a feeling of the "demoniac" in life itself ... exacerbated by the unexpected death of Freud's daughter"? — and it is certainly striking that "the term 'death drive' — Todestrieb — entered his correspondence a week after Sophie Halberstadt's death"; so that we may well accept at the very least that the "loss can claim a subsidiary role ... [in]his analytic preoccupation with destructiveness".
On his final page, Freud acknowledges that his theorising "in turn raises a host of other questions to which we can at present find no answer". Whatever legitimate reservations there may be about "the improbability of our speculations. A queer instinct, indeed, directed to the destruction of its own organic home", Freud's speculative essay has proven remarkably fruitful in stimulating further psychoanalytic research and theorising, both in himself and in his followers; and we may consider it as a prime example of Freud in his role "as a problem finder — one who raises new questions ... called attention to a whole range of human phenomena and processes". Thus for example André Green has suggested that Freud "turned to the biology of micro-organisms ... because he was unable to find the answers to the questions raised by psychoanalytic practice": the fruitfulness of the questions — in the spirit of 'Maurice Blanchot's sentence, "La réponse est le malheur de la question" [The answer is the misfortune of the question]' — remains nonetheless unimpaired.
The distinction between pleasure principle and death drive led Freud to restructure his model of the psyche.
With Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud also introduced the question of violence and destructiveness in humans. These themes play an important role in Civilization and Its Discontents, in which Freud suggests that civilization's major function is to repress the death instinct. The instinct persists in the forms of superego and neurosis.
Freud's indication "that in cases of traumatism there is a ' lack of any preparedness for anxiety '... is a forerunner of the distinction he would later make ... between 'automatic anxiety' and 'anxiety as a signal'".
Beyond the Pleasure Principle may be Freud's most controversial text. Jacques Lacan, a self-styled Freudian, called it "this extraordinary text of Freud's, unbelievably ambiguous, almost confused". One of Freud's most sympathetic biographers wrote that "Beyond the Pleasure Principle is a difficult text ... the reassuring intimacy with clinical experience that marks most of Freud's papers, even at their most theoretical, seems faint here, almost absent. He went on to quote Freud's personal physician: "Max Schur, whom no one can accuse of reading Freud unsympathetically, said flatly: 'We can only assume that Freud's conclusions ... are an example of ad hoc reasoning to prove a preformed hypothesis ... throughout Beyond the Pleasure Principle '".
Ernest Jones concluded that "This book is further noteworthy in being the only one of Freud's which has received little acceptance on the part of his followers". Many of Freud's colleagues and students rejected the theories proposed in Beyond the Pleasure Principle because the idea of a drive towards death seemed strange.
Barbara Low (29 July 1874 – 25 December 1955) was one of the first British psychoanalysts, and an early pioneer of analytic theory in England. She was born in London and named Alice Leonora, the eleventh and last child of Therese (née Schacerl) and Maximillian Loewe, who moved to Britain following Loewe's part in the failed 1848 uprising in Hungary. Her family was Jewish. Her brothers Sidney James Mark Low and Maurice Low, are journalists, her sister Frances Helena Low is also a journalist.Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis is a private educational institution that focuses on training psychoanalysts, particularly in the field of modern psychoanalysis. Founded in 1973, it only awards graduate degrees. Its main campus is in Brookline, Massachusetts.Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research
The Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research was founded in 1945. It is part of the Department of Psychiatry of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.Death drive
In classical Freudian psychoanalytic theory, the death drive (German: Todestrieb) is the drive toward death and self-destruction. It was originally proposed by Sabina Spielrein in her paper "Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being" (Die Destruktion als Ursache des Werdens) in 1912, which was then taken up by Sigmund Freud in 1920 in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. This concept has been translated as "opposition between the ego or death instincts and the sexual or life instincts". In Pleasure Principle, Freud used the plural "death drives" (Todestriebe) much more frequently than in the singular.The death drive opposes Eros, the tendency toward survival, propagation, sex, and other creative, life-producing drives. The death drive is sometimes referred to as "Thanatos" in post-Freudian thought, complementing "Eros", although this term was not used in Freud's own work, being rather introduced by Wilhelm Stekel in 1909 and then by Paul Federn in the present context.The Standard Edition of Freud's works in English confuses two terms that are different in German, Instinkt ("instinct") and Trieb ("drive"), often translating both as instinct; for example, "the hypothesis of a death instinct, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state". "This equating of Instinkt and Trieb has created serious misunderstandings". Freud actually refers to the term "Instinkt" in explicit use elsewhere, and so while the concept of "instinct" can loosely be referred to as a "drive," any essentialist or naturalist connotations of the term should be put in abeyance. In a sense, the death drive is a force that is not essential to the life of an organism (unlike an "instinct") and tends to denature it or make it behave in ways that are sometimes counter-intuitive. In other words, the term death "drive" is simply a false representation of death instinct. The term is almost universally known in scholarly literature on Freud as the "death drive", and Lacanian psychoanalysts often shorten it to simply "drive" (although Freud posited the existence of other drives as well, and Lacan explicitly states in Seminar XI that all drives are partial to the death drive). The contemporary Penguin translations of Freud translate Trieb and Instinkt as "drive" and "instinct" respectively.Freudian slip
A Freudian slip, also called parapraxis, is an error in speech, memory, or physical action that occurs due to the interference of an unconscious subdued wish or internal train of thought. The concept is part of classical psychoanalysis. Classical examples involve slips of the tongue, but psychoanalytic theory also embraces misreadings, mishearings, temporary forgettings, and the mislaying and losing of objects.Id, ego and super-ego
The id, ego, and super-ego are three distinct, yet interacting agents in the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche.
The three parts are the theoretical constructs in terms of whose activity and interaction our mental life is described. According to this Freudian model of the psyche, the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends; the super-ego plays the critical and moralizing role; and the ego is the organized, realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego.
As Freud explained:The functional importance of the ego is manifested in the fact that normally control over the approaches to motility devolves upon it. Thus in its relation to the id it is like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse; with this difference, that the rider tries to do so with his own strength while the ego uses borrowed forces. The analogy may be carried a little further. Often a rider, if he is not to be parted from his horse, is obliged to guide it where it wants to go; so in the same way the ego is in the habit of transforming the id's will into action as if it were its own. (p. 19).Although the model is structural and makes reference to an apparatus, the id, ego and super-ego are purely psychological concepts and do not correspond to (somatic) structures of the brain such as the kind dealt with by neuroscience. The super-ego is observable in how someone can view themselves as guilty, bad, shameful, weak, and feel compelled to do certain things. Freud in The Ego and the Id discusses "the general character of harshness and cruelty exhibited by the [ego] ideal – its dictatorial 'Thou shalt.'"
Freud (1933) hypothesizes different levels of ego ideal or superego development with increasingly greater ideals:
...nor must it be forgotten that a child has a different estimate of [their] parents at different periods of [their] life. At the time at which the Oedipus complex gives place to the super-ego they are something quite magnificent; but later they lose much of this. Identifications then come about with these later parents as well, and indeed they regularly make important contributions to the formation of character; but in that case they only affect the ego, they no longer influence the super-ego, which has been determined by the earliest parental images.
The earlier in development, the greater the estimate of parental power. When one defuses into rivalry with the parental imago, then one feels the 'dictatorial thou shalt' to manifest the power the imago represents. Four general levels are found in Freud's work: the auto-erotic, the narcissistic, the anal, and the phallic. These different levels of development and the relations to parental imagos correspond to specific id forms of aggression and affection. For example, aggressive desires to decapitate, to dismember, to cannibalize, to swallow whole, to suck dry, to make disappear, to blow away, etc. animate myths, are enjoyed in fantasy and horror movies, and are observable in the fantasies and repressions of patients across cultures.
The concepts themselves arose at a late stage in the development of Freud's thought as the "structural model" (which succeeded his "economic model" and "topographical model") and was first discussed in his 1920 essay Beyond the Pleasure Principle and was formalized and elaborated upon three years later in his The Ego and the Id. Freud's proposal was influenced by the ambiguity of the term "unconscious" and its many conflicting uses.Interpersonal psychoanalysis
Interpersonal psychoanalysis is based on the theories of American psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan (1892–1949). Sullivan believed that the details of a patient's interpersonal interactions with others can provide insight into the causes and cures of mental disorder.Current practitioners stress such features as the detailed description of clinical experience, the mutuality of the interpersonal process, and the not-knowing of the analyst.Intersubjective psychoanalysis
The term "intersubjectivity" was introduced to psychoanalysis by George Atwood and Robert Stolorow (1984), who consider it a "meta-theory" of psychoanalysis. Intersubjective psychoanalysis suggests that all interactions must be considered contextually; interactions between the patient/analyst or child/parent cannot be seen as separate from each other, but rather must be considered always as mutually influencing each other. This philosophical concept dates back to "German Idealism" and phenomenology.Joie de vivre
Joie de vivre (French pronunciation: [ʒwa də vivʁ], joy of living) is a French phrase often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit.
It "can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do… And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life, a Weltanschauung. Robert's Dictionnaire says joie is sentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience, that is, involves one's whole being."Jouissance
In French, jouissance means enjoyment, in terms both of rights and property, and of sexual orgasm. The latter has a meaning partially lacking in the English word "enjoyment".Poststructuralism has developed the latter sense of jouissance in complex ways, so as to denote a transgressive, excessive kind of pleasure linked to the division and splitting of the subject involved.Personal unconscious
In analytical psychology, the personal unconscious is Carl Jung's term for the Freudian unconscious, as contrasted with the Jungian concept of the collective unconscious. Often referred to by him as "No man’s land," the personal unconscious is located at the fringe of consciousness, between two worlds: "the exterior or spatial world and the interior or psychic objective world" (Ellenberger, 707). As Charles Baudouin states, "That the unconscious extends so far beyond consciousness is simply the counterpart of the fact that the exterior world extends so far beyond our visual field" (Ellenberger, 707).
The personal unconscious includes anything which is not presently conscious but can be. The personal unconscious is made up essentially of contents which have at one time been conscious but have disappeared from consciousness through having been forgotten or repressed. The personal unconscious is like most people's understanding of the unconscious in that it includes both memories that are easily brought to mind and those that have been suppressed for some reason. Jung's theory of a personal unconscious is quite similar to Freuds creation of a region containing a person's repressed, forgotten or ignored experiences. However, Jung considered the personal unconscious to be a "more or less superficial layer of the unconscious." Within the personal unconscious is what he called "feeling-toned complexes." He said that "they constitute the personal and private side of psychic life."Pleasure principle (psychology)
In Freudian psychoanalysis, the pleasure principle (German: Lustprinzip) is the instinctive seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain to satisfy biological and psychological needs. Specifically, the pleasure principle is the driving force guiding the id.Psychic apparatus
The term psychic apparatus (also psychical apparatus, mental apparatus) denotes a central, theoretic construct of Freudian metapsychology, wherein:
We assume that mental life is the function of an apparatus to which we ascribe the characteristics of being extended in space and of being made up of several portions [Id, ego and super-ego.
As a psychologist, Sigmund Freud used the German terms psychischer Apparat and seelischer Apparat, about the functioning of which he elaborates:
We picture the unknown apparatus, which serves the activities of the mind, as being really like an instrument constructed of several parts (which we speak of as 'agencies'), each of which performs a particular function, and which have a fixed, spatial relation to one another: it being understood that by 'spatial relation'—'in front of' and 'behind', 'superficial' and 'deep'—we merely mean, in the first instance, a representation of the regular succession of the functions.
Freud proposed the psychic apparatus as solely a theoretic construct explaining the functioning of the mind, and not a neurologic structure of the brain:
It is a hypothesis, like so many others in the sciences: the very earliest ones have always been rather rough. 'Open to revision', we can say in such cases ... the value of a 'fiction' of this kind ... depends on how much one can achieve with its help.
Moreover, in emphasizing the immateriality of the psychic apparatus, Freud dismissed the matter of its physical substance:
That is not a subject of psychological interest. Psychology can be as indifferent to it as, for instance, optics can be to the question of whether the walls of a telescope are made of metal or cardboard. We shall leave entirely to one side the material line of approach.Psychological projection
Psychological projection is a defence mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame shifting.Reichian therapy
Reichian therapy can refer to several schools of thought and therapeutic techniques whose common touchstone is their origins in the work of psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957). Some examples are:
Bioenergetic analysis, which combines psychological analysis, active work with the body and relational therapeutic work.
Body psychotherapy, which addresses the body and the mind as a whole with emphasis on the reciprocal relationships within body and mind.
Neo-Reichian massage, whose practitioners attempt to locate and dissolve body armoring (also called "holding patterns").
Vegetotherapy, a form of psychotherapy that involves the physical manifestations of emotions.
Character Analysis, the analysis of character structures that act in the form of resistances of the ego.Repetition compulsion
Repetition compulsion is a psychological phenomenon in which a person repeats an event or its circumstances over and over again. This includes reenacting the event or putting oneself in situations where the event is likely to happen again. This "re-living" can also take the form of dreams in which memories and feelings of what happened are repeated, and even hallucinated.
Repetition compulsion can also be used to cover the repetition of behaviour or life patterns more broadly: a "key component in Freud's understanding of mental life, 'repetition compulsion' ... describes the pattern whereby people endlessly repeat patterns of behaviour which were difficult or distressing in earlier life".Sigmund Freud bibliography
This is a list of writings published by Sigmund Freud. Books are either linked or in italics.Sándor Ferenczi
Sándor Ferenczi (7 July 1873 – 22 May 1933) was a Hungarian psychoanalyst, a key theorist of the psychoanalytic school and a close associate of Sigmund Freud.World Association of Psychoanalysis
The World Association of Psychoanalysis (WAP) was launched at the initiative of Jacques-Alain Miller in Buenos Aires on 3 January 1992. It was declared in Paris, four days later, on 7 January. Its statutes are modelled on Jacques Lacan's "Founding Act" and adopt the principles outlined in his "Proposition" on the Pass.