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Loewald, H.W. (1988). Psychoanalysis in Search of Nature Thoughts on Metapsychology, “Metaphysics,” Projection. Ann. Psychoanal., 16:49-54.

(1988). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 16:49-54

Psychoanalysis in Search of Nature Thoughts on Metapsychology, “Metaphysics,” Projection

Hans W. Loewald, M.D.


With the psychoanalytic conception of the unconscious and of psychic reality psychoanalysis is stepping outside the bounds of nineteenth-century natural science and its interpretation (a hermeneutic construction) of nature as objective material reality. In the course of the development of psychoanalytic thought, the id—uniting unconscious and instincts under one roof—became the concept for human nature as unconscious activity. Ego and superego represent individual developments of that activity, and human consciousness is a sporadic resultant of its further evolution.

With Freud's theory of life and death instincts, as pertaining to universal nature no less than to human nature, psychic reality has swallowed up, as it were, material objective reality. With that “projection,”psyche in its unconscious aspect has become the title for nature as living, as creative-destructive activity. Cosmic life evolves and contains human life, and human life as a microcosm can, in the mirroring of conscire, of consciousness, grasp something of the dynamics—the psyche—of nature. Psychoanalysis as a distinct discipline is concerned with the detailed exploration of the human microcosm, its permutations and mirrorings, the vicissitudes, disturbances, and conflicts peculiar to it. But psychoanalytic theory, having developed basic general concepts, must not lose its moorings in a theory of nature.

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