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Lerner, P. (2021). The Pleasure Principle: The Epistemological Symptom of Psychoanalysis. IJP Open, 8:2.

(2021). IJP Open, 8:2

The Pleasure Principle: The Epistemological Symptom of Psychoanalysis

Pablo Lerner

The epistemology of Freud’s psychoanalysis suffers from the irreconcilability between the understanding of the functioning of the psychical apparatus in terms of the courses of excitation and subjective wishes and sensations. It also suffers from a difficulty in specifying the nature of the psychical energy and rigorously differentiating it from that of the nervous system. These splits were crucial for Freud’s epistemological rupture with psychophysics, but the problems that accompanied them had to be repressed in order for the theory of psychoanalysis to hold together. It is argued that the pleasure principle functions as the epistemological symptom of this repression: it holds the metapsychological construction together, while at the same time stabilizing the relegation of these two psychophysical identities to the dynamic unconscious of psychoanalysis. It is furthermore argued that this rupture in actuality was produced by the repression of the principle of constancy as formulated in Entwurf, and that “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” might be understood as the lifting of this repression and the accompanying partial breakdown of its symptom, the pleasure principle.

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