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Freud, S. (1920). One of the Difficulties of Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 1:17-23.

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(1920). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 1:17-23

One of the Difficulties of Psycho-Analysis

Sigmund Freud, M.D.

I may say at the outset that in my title, "One of the Difficulties of Psycho-Analysis", I refer not to an intellectual difficulty that makes Psycho-Analysis hard to understand, but to an affective one which estranges the feelings of those to whom it is introduced, and makes them less inclined to accept or be interested in it. As will be noticed, both difficulties come to the same thing, for it is not so easy to understand a subject which one approaches with insufficient sympathy.

As some of my readers may still be strangers to the subject, it will be well for me to retrace some of the first steps. In Psycho-Analysis, from a great number of individual observations and impressions, something that may be called a theory has at last been formed, known as the Libido Theory. Psycho-Analysis, as is well known, occupies itself with the explanation and cure of what are called nervous disorders. A mode of approach to this problem had to be found, and it was decided to seek for this in the life-history of the instinctive tendencies of the mind. Propositions concerning these tendencies became, therefore, the basis of our conception of nervous disorder.

The psychology that is taught in the schools gives us little satisfaction in answer to questions about the problems of feeling, and its information is never more doleful than it is on this question of the instincts.

It was left for us to discover a starting point. Hunger and love are popularly distinguished as the representatives of the instincts which ensure self-preservation and propagation respectively. In acknowledging this obvious division, we distinguish in Psycho-Analysis also between instincts of self-preservation or Ego-tendencies on the one hand, and sexual impulses on the other. We call the mental aspect of the sexual instinct Libido (sexual hunger), this being analogous to hunger, desire for power, etc., in the sphere of the Ego-tendencies.

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