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Flescher, J. (1955). A Dualistic Viewpoint on Anxiety. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 3:415-446.

(1955). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 3:415-446

A Dualistic Viewpoint on Anxiety

Joachim Flescher, M.D.

Before we attempt to re-examine the second anxiety theory of Freud, it would be wise to recall what compelled him to abandon his first one. He believed that the concept of a direct transformation of libido into anxiety could not be sustained, as the unpleasurable nature of the anxiety affect was contradictory to libidinal discharge. That anxiety is not due to a release of libidinal energy was, according to Freud, proven by the situation in conversion hysteria where the libidinal cathexes of the repressed impulses are still retained in repression. The intimate connection between libido and anxiety had to be loosened also, because of the clinical fact that repression of impulses that are not libidinal in nature can arouse anxiety. Furthermore, Freud had to account for the observation that anxiety appears prior to repression. In addition, the role which previous experiences play in the anxiety situation had to be clarified. Finally, he had to take into consideration the structural differentiation of the mental apparatus then recently introduced. The answer to the question of the localization in and participation of a specific psychic structure in the anxiety phenomenon became unavoidable.

It is well known that in Freud's new formulation, the ego was held responsible for anxiety. The economic origin of anxiety became, as he reiterated, irrelevant because, according to his insight at that stage, the ego was working with desexualized energy.


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