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Ladame, F. (1991). Adolescence and the Repetition Compulsion. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 72:253-273.

(1991). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 72:253-273

Adolescence and the Repetition Compulsion

François Ladame

SUMMARY

I describe the connexion between the failure of the procedures of adolescence and the establishment of a psychical economy dominated by the repetition compulsion.

The concept of the repetition compulsion appears as early as in 1914, in 'Remembering, repeating and working-through', but is not clearly specified as a characteristic of instinctual functioning until 1919 and 1920, in 'The "Uncanny"' and 'Beyond the pleasure principle'.

In these two works, Freud presents what amounts to a model of the disorganization of the mental apparatus observed in 'breaks' in the adolescent process when the capacity to bind instinctual excitation in the primary process is swamped. Decompensation is precipitated by the change in the reality principle (de facto infantile impotence becoming adult potency).

The repetition compulsion, in the strict sense of the term, is a matter of 'crude', unbound instincts. Moreover, the idea emerges from Freud's two texts that the instinctual demand manifested through the repetition compulsion is the persistence of the incestuous and parricidal wish. This is borne out by my analytical experience, as the two treatments I adduce to illustrate the theory show.

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