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Dorey, R. (1986). The Relationship of Mastery. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 13:323-332.

(1986). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 13:323-332

The Relationship of Mastery

Roger Dorey


The instinct for mastery, in Freud's work, is a concept whose metapsychological status is ambiguous. Mastery cannot be regarded as the action of a single trend, but corresponds to a complex formation of the relationship with the other within which the dialectic interplay (Eros—Thanatos) is precisely located.

In this relationship, the aim is always the wish of the other, to the extent that it is fundamentally alien, and by its nature eludes any possibility of seizure. The perverse and obsessional organizations represent two paradigms of the establishment of such a relationship of mastery. In perversion, the other's wish is captured by seduction;

in obsessional neurosis, the wish is in effect obliterated by an operation of destruction.

From the metapsychological point of view, this form of mastery must be contrasted with the type of mastery which implies assimilation, because the two manifestations correspond to two distinct mental processes, as is clear from transitional phenomena and from children's play.

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