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Spielrein, S. (1995). “Destruction as Cause of Becoming”. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 18:85-118.

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(1995). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 18(1):85-118

“Destruction as Cause of Becoming”

Sabina Spielrein, M.D.

Translated by:
Stuart K. Witt

[465] In my work with sexual problems one question has especially interested me: why this most powerful drive, the drive of reproduction [Fortpflanzungstrieb], houses within itself, next to the a priori expected positive feelings, negative ones like anxiety and disgust, the latter of which really has to be overcome so that one can get to the positive activity. The negative attitude of the individual toward sexual activity [Sexualbetätigung] is, of course, especially evident in neurotics. So far as I know, individual researchers have sought the explanation of this resistance [Widerstandes] in our mores, in the upbringing of our children which endeavors to keep the drive within limits, and therefore teaches every child to regard the realization of sexual desires as something bad, forbidden. Some find the frequency with which mental images [Vorstellungen] of death are combined with sexual desires striking, even as death becomes interpreted as a symbol of the moral fall (Stekel). Gross derives


“Die Destruktion als Ursache des Werdens,” Jahrbuch für psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen [Yearbook of Psychoanalytical and Psycho-pathological Research], 1912, 4:465-503. Published by E. Bleuler and S. Freud; edited by C. G. Jung. Translation of pp. 465-491 appears here. Bracketed numerals within the text indicate page numbers in the original.

© 1993 Full Quart Press, Schuylerville, New York.

1 When I wrote this work, Dr. Stekel's “The language of dreams” had not yet appeared. In his work he shows in numerous dreams that next to the wish to live we have the wish to die. The latter he perceives as opposite to the wish to live, which is essentially rooted in the sexual instinct. [Stekel, Wilhelm, 1868-1940. Die sprache des traumes. Eine darstellung der symbolik und deutung des traumes in ihren bezeihungen zur kranken und gesunden seele, fur arzte und psychologen (The Language of Dreams: A Statement of the Symbolism and Meaning of Dreams in their Relationship with Sick and Healthy Minds, For Physicians and Psychologists), Wiesbaden, J. F. Bergmann, 1911.]

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