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Coriat, I.H. (1921). Sex and Hunger. Psychoanal. Rev., 8(4):375-381.

(1921). Psychoanalytic Review, 8(4):375-381

Sex and Hunger

Isador H. Coriat, M.D.

According to Freud “The fact of sexual need in man and animals is expressed in biology by the assumption of a sexual impulse. This impulse is made analogous to the impulse of taking nourishment, and to hunger.” Although this analogy is a well-attested observation in psychoanalysis, the two aspects of the fundamental libido have not been completely elaborated and consequently the following observations from psychoanalytic experience may prove to be of interest.

The perpetual driving force of human emotions and conduct, comes from the great region of the unconscious. This creative force presents itself in two aspects, the problem of self-preservation or the nutritional libido and the problem of the perpetuation of the race, or the sexual libido. It seems however according to Freud, that instead of there being two separate libido streams, there is only one. For the pleasure derived from satisfying hunger is at the bottom sexual, possibly because of the close interlinking or practical identity of the two cravings, that of self-preservation and self-perpetuation. As Freud states “He who sees a satisfied child sink back from the mother's breast, and fall asleep with reddened cheeks and a blissful smile, will have to admit that this picture remains as typical of the expression of sexual gratification later in life.”

Consequently, the ambivalent aspects of this great creative libido, sex and hunger—are of the greatest importance for psychoanalysis. A proof of the ambivalent features of the fundamental libido is shown, that in regression to primitive cravings, the nutritional libido may serve sexual ends, or on the contrary the sexual libido may regress to purely nutritional strivings. An excellent example of the latter tendency in a strongly introverted individual is vividly portrayed in the Russian novel “Oblomov” by Goncharoff.

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