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Friedman, J.A. (1992). Freud's Todestrieb: Part 2. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 19:309-322.

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(1992). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 19:309-322

Freud's Todestrieb: Part 2

John A. Friedman


Psychoanalysis has, for the most part, rejected Freud's Todestrieb, claiming it is too speculative, biological or even autobiographical. In the first part, it was shown how the notion of Todestrieb is properly understood only in the context of Freud's thinking and questioning. Here, 'death' itself appears not as a brute, biological fact, but rather as the destiny/destination of the living entity, with such a journey driven by an instinctual urge. Such an understanding is founded on the recognition of the repetition compulsion and on the disclosure of the essential nature of instinct as 'conservative'.

Repeating and Binding (Freud's Bindung)

In Freud's 1914 paper on technique, entitled 'Remembering, repeating [ Wiederholen ] and working-through', we find the first published use of the term 'repetition compulsion' (Wiederholungszwang). In the treatment, the 'Wiederholungszwang' is the patient's way of remembering.

We may say that the patient does not remember anything of what he has forgotten and repressed, but acts it out. He reproduces it not as a memory but as an action; he repeats it, without, of course, knowing that he is repeating it (p. 150).

We make note here of the nature of this reproduction. It appears as 'action', as gesture and attitude, in other words as transference (bertragung) and resistance (Widerstand). It is a form of re-production that resists being represented as a verbal memory, that is, as words. So Freud states, and here is the

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