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Gonchar, J. (1992). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990: Is Freud's Concept of Instinct Incoherent? Resolving Strachey's Dilemma. Jerome C. Wakefield. Pp. 241-264.. Psychoanal Q., 61:317.

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Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990: Is Freud's Concept of Instinct Incoherent? Resolving Strachey's Dilemma. Jerome C. Wakefield. Pp. 241-264.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:317

Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990: Is Freud's Concept of Instinct Incoherent? Resolving Strachey's Dilemma. Jerome C. Wakefield. Pp. 241-264.

Joel Gonchar

Wakefield examines Strachey's view of Freud's theory of the nature of instincts; Strachey believed that Freud described instincts as "mental contents, as somatic processes and as a combination of the two." Strachey tried to resolve the ambiguity of the concept of instinct by depending on Freud's idea of its being a "frontier concept" between the body and the mind. The author states that Strachey's view is a misreading of Freud and that the latter's concept of instinct expresses one coherent idea. Wakefield turns to the concept of psychic energy for a way out of Strachey's dilemma. He points out that Strachey made the mistake of identifying a psychical representative with an ideational representative, but that what Freud was trying to say was that there are mental phenomena, such as psychic energy, not classifiable as mental contents. Wakefield reconsiders the three sets of texts that Strachey cites, and attempts to show that the passages are consistent. He faults Strachey's view, which he sees as based on a series of confusions. The first is between the terms psychical representative of an instinct and psychical representative of the body; the second between psychical representative and ideational representative; and the third between frontier concept and frontier entity. After demonstrating that all three characterizations of instinct are consistent, Wakefield states that they all fit a conception of instinct as a non-ideational mental phenomenon that is caused by bodily processes. Wakefield's interest in resolving Strachey's dilemma and clarifying the nature of instincts has to do with the movement to rid psychoanalysis of metapsychology, which he believes is being done without a clear idea of concepts such as instincts.


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Article Citation

Gonchar, J. (1992). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990. Psychoanal. Q., 61:317

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WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.