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Rossi, P.L. (1990). Instinct. Rivista Psicoanal., 36(1):126-148.

(1990). Rivista di Psicoanalisi, 36(1):126-148

Historical-Critical Note

Instinct Language Translation

Pier Luigi Rossi

1. For Freud, instinct is one of those “abstract ideas” which “even at the stage of description it is not possible to avoid applying to the material in hand”; these ideas are “derived from somewhere or other, but certainly not from the new observations alone” (1915a, 117).

But today, only these “new observations” (the clinical aspect of Psychoanalysis) ensure our continuity with Freud; as far as the “abstract ideas” are concerned, times have changed to such an extent that considerable historical research is required for his text to be still readable now.

An early contribution to this research was made by Bernfeld (1944), who traced Freud's links with the school of Helmoltz. One of the components of instinct is the idea of push force, and energy, not in a vitalistic sense, but as one of the work requirements imposed on the psychic apparatus.

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