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Lear, J. (1996). The Introduction Of Eros: Reflections On The Work Of Hans Loewald. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:673-698.

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(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:673-698

The Introduction Of Eros: Reflections On The Work Of Hans Loewald

Jonathan Lear


Freud's essay “On Narcissism: An Introduction” (1914a) would have been more aptly called “On the Introduction of Narcissism,” not merely because it is a more accurate translation of the German, but because the aim of the essay is not to introduce the reader to narcissism, so much as to introduce narcissism into psychoanalytic theory. In hindsight, it seems that Freud should also have written an essay entitled, “On the Introduction of Eros.” For from 1920 on, he seems increasingly aware that he had, incredibly enough, left eros out of psychoanalytic thinking.

When we talk of a legacy our speech is often tinged with an ambiguity which suggests ambivalence. There is, of course, the straightforward sense of a bequest—as with Freud's passing on to us the idea of the repressed unconscious. But there is also a sense of legacy as that which a person did not hand down (but should have). Here the legacy is a task: it is the unfinished business which the child needs to complete in order to manifest love, atone for ambivalence and succeed the parent (Loewald, 1960p. 249).

This is Freud's legacy-as-task: to develop a psychoanalytic account of the erotic. Although he placed eros at the center of psychoanalytic theory, he says remarkably little about it. Of course, he speculates grandly: “Eros” is capitalized, and introduced as one of two cosmic principles which, together, make


Committee on Social Thought, The University of Chicago; The Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis.

I would like to thank Elizabeth Brett, Kirsten Dahl, Braxton McKee and Lynn Reiser for their helpful comments.

Submitted for publication September 12, 1994.

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