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Thompson, A.E. (1991). Freud's Pessimism, the Death Instinct, and the Theme of Disintegration in 'Analysis Terminable and Interminable'. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 18:165-179.
   

(1991). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 18:165-179

Freud's Pessimism, the Death Instinct, and the Theme of Disintegration in 'Analysis Terminable and Interminable'

Anne E. Thompson

SUMMARY

This paper suggests that the notion of the 'death instinct' is used in 'Analysis terminable and interminable' not only concretely but also as an abstract critical principle—of pessimism, disintegration, and regression—that functions as an underlying theme unifying Freud's text. Freud's

application of the principle of disintegration bears a family resemblance to post-modernist views, including the impulse to deconstruct, to explore the inherent limits of theory, and to question the idea of progress. He questions 'optimistic' views that overemphasize integration and progress in analytic treatment and development. This paper specifically examines Freud's critical application of the principle of disintegration to the notions of an integrated ego, the transference neurosis, and progressive development. It traces subsequent responses to his ideas and shows how difficult it has been to accept the implications of Freud's arguments and to maintain a dialogue between optimism and pessimism in psychoanalysis.

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