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García-Castrillón Armengou, F. (2009). The Death Drive: Conceptual Analysis and Relevance in the Spanish Psychoanalytic Community. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(2):263-289.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(2):263-289

Psychoanalytic Theory and Technique

The Death Drive: Conceptual Analysis and Relevance in the Spanish Psychoanalytic Community

Frank García-Castrillón Armengou

Final version accepted 23 October 2008)

Based on a six-year doctoral research, the author carries out a historical, epistemological and paradigmatic assessment of the controversial concept of the death instinct. The author analyses this notion's speculative nature; its relation with the second principle of thermodynamics; the feasibility of a return to an inorganic state; the death drive's metaphorical and isomorphic uses, as well as its theoretical and doctrinaire approaches; its relationship with repetition compulsion and masochism; the influence of Freud's scientific background on its formulation; and its context-dependent meaning. Although this paper stems mainly from the theoretical aspects of the study, it also offers some clinical thoughts on the basis of a clinical vignette. The author stresses the underlying healing aspects of repetition in the analytic situation. Next, he presents concise comments on his empirical research on the current professional usage of the death drive in the Spanish psycho-analytical community. This research coverd more than 27% of Spanish psycho-analysts (IPA) and psychotherapists (EFPP). The essay's conclusions point to the ambiguous character of the death drive concept and its literal unacceptability and the absence of consistent arguments for its acceptance.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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