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Baggally, W. (1941). Hedonic Conflict and the Pleasure Principle. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 22:280-300.

(1941). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 22:280-300

Hedonic Conflict and the Pleasure Principle

W. Baggally

In discussing the consequences following upon a failure of repression, Freud (1) writes of the repressed impulses: 'If they then succeed, as so easily happens with the repressed sex-impulses, in fighting their way through—along circuitous routes—to a direct or substitutive gratification, this success, which might otherwise have brought pleasure, is experienced by the ego as unpleasurable. In consequence of the old conflict which ended in repression the pleasure principle has been violated anew, just at the moment when certain impulses were at work on the achievement of fresh pleasure in pursuance of the principle. The details of the process by which repression changes a possibility of pleasure into a source of unpleasure are not yet fully understood, or are not yet capable of clear presentation, but it is certain that all neurotic unpleasure is of this kind, is pleasure which cannot be experienced as such.'

In what follows I shall put forward some tentative suggestions as to the mechanism of this transformation of pleasure into unpleasure, both in neurotic conflict and in normal mental life. I shall also try to show that the opposite phenomenon, in which unpleasure is transformed into pleasure, as in masochism for example, is essentially of the same nature and is susceptible of the same explanation.

It seems to me that envy and jealousy present very much the same kind of problem as that mentioned in the above quotation, and that in spite of their puzzling features, they have received surprisingly little, if any, detailed study in psycho-analytical literature. By most writers they seem almost to be treated as primary psychological entities which, being primary, are not to be explained in simpler terms. Yet one does not read of instincts of jealousy or envy.

Let us consider the following incident which occurred in my presence, and which presents the problem of jealousy in a form suitable for our present purpose.

A couple are sitting together quietly.

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