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Dahl, H. (1968). Panel Reports—Psychoanalytic Theory of the Instinctual Drives in Relation to Recent Developments. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 16:613-637.

(1968). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 16:613-637

Panel Reports—Psychoanalytic Theory of the Instinctual Drives in Relation to Recent Developments

Hartvig Dahl, M.D.

In 1915 Freud wrote that in considering "mental life from a biological point of view, an 'instinct' appears to us as a concept on the frontier between the mental and the somatic, as the psychical representative of stimuli originating from within the organism and reaching the mind, as a measure of the demand made upon the mind for work in consequence of its connection with the body." Arthur Valenstein had proposed that the panel reconsider this concept of psychoanalytic drive from the vantage point of 1967 and from a knowledge of some developments in related fields, especially neurophysiology and experimental and physiological psychology.

Valenstein briefly sketched the history of the instinctual drive concept from the early pre-Project emphasis on childhood seduction and trauma and the associated idea of a repressed affect seeking discharge to the later recognition of the role of fantasies and unconscious wishes. The early view was what Rapaport called the environmentalist-empiricist view, and from it followed the idea that cure resulted from the abreaction of pent-up emotion. This view, however, proved to be too simple and its revision eventually led to an emphasis on intrapsychic determiners and the 1915 conception, which focused on the mental representation and emphasized the distinction between responses to inner and to outer stimuli. Valenstein said, "Freud saw it as crucial that stimuli from the external world could be avoided by muscular action whereas stimuli from the internal world which could not be readily escaped stood as the signs, the evidence of instinctual needs."

He described Freud's "bias toward a qualitative dualism of instinctual drives," that is, ego vs.

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