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Laplanche, J. (1981). A Metapsychology Put to the Test of Anxiety. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 62:81-89.

(1981). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 62:81-89

A Metapsychology Put to the Test of Anxiety

Jean Laplanche


The problem of anxiety allows us to test the validity of our metapsychological conceptions.

Fear as an adaptive reaction to danger, should be sharply distinguished from anxiety. Fear as such is not present in the infant. Anxiety is the primary phenomenon. It is the result and the translation of the internal attack by the free drive-energy, whose achieved shape is the so-called death-drive. Both 'life-drive' and 'death-drive' are of a sexual nature, but the latter operates according to the purest primary process, whereas the former, cathexes more or less stable objects and, in the first place, the own ego. Anxiety, then, is the impact of destructuration produced on the ego and its objects by the drive attack; it is the irreconcilable ego-dystonic residue of sexual desire.

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