Freud's concept of the death drive and its relation to the superego

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This paper addresses the emergence of the ‘death drive’ in Sigmund Freud’s later work, and the significance of this development for his psychoanalytic theory as a whole. In particular, the paper argues that the ‘death drive’ is a pivotal concept, articulating a connection between what are commonly understood as the ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ functions of the psyche. Moreover, the death drive is pivotal in a second sense, in that it articulates a turn away from the strictly empirical realm of science, to a dark and obscure field indicated (in terms of lack), but not comprehended, by observable phenomena. Finally, the paper suggests that as Freud’s departure from his scientific methodology into the wilderness of speculation, the death drive represents his most valuable contribution to psychoanalysis. With the death drive, Freud is able to engender a new perspective of human being: one that is not already encompassed by the mechanistic neurological viewpoint from which his researches first issued.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMinerva: An Internet Journal of Philosophy
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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