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Ekstein, R. (1949). A Biographical Comment on Freud's Dual Instinct Theory. Am. Imago, 6(3):211-216.

(1949). American Imago, 6(3):211-216

A Biographical Comment on Freud's Dual Instinct Theory

Rudolf Ekstein, Ph.D.

“Si vis vitam para mortem.” Freud (7)

The approaching tenth anniversary of Freud's death on September 23, 1939 brings to mind certain aspects of his later life which may permit a new step in the evaluation of the dual instinct theory, his late contribution to the psychological problem of death.

In his The Interpretation of Dreams (5), published in 1900, Freud reveals to us that the death of his father brought to his increased awareness the ambivalent nature of his relationship to the father. It was only after the father's death that he developed the theoretical formulations known as the Oedipus complex.

It is because of similar problems that after the death of Freud his pupils and followers gave more and more public and printed expression of their intensive preoccupation with the life and death of the founder of Psychoanalysis. It seems as if the death of Freud permits us now to learn more about him, his life and consequently perhaps also about Psychoanalysis.

Our own ambivalence, another example of the Oedipal theme, is converted into scientific curiosity that aims at better insight into and integration of the work he left for us.

The present author is interested in throwing some light on certain biographical aspects of Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle (4) which might lead to a fuller appreciation of certain personal problems of Freud that have been a contributing cause for the formulation of the dual instinct theory, that is: the introduction of the death instinct theory.

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