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Novey, S. (1957). A Re-Evaluation of Certain Aspects of the Theory of Instinctual Drives in the Light of Modern Ego Psychology. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 38:137-145.

(1957). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 38:137-145

A Re-Evaluation of Certain Aspects of the Theory of Instinctual Drives in the Light of Modern Ego Psychology

Samuel Novey, M.D.

In the evolutionary development of our theoretical position in psycho-analysis it would seem valid to explain the currently observed phenomena with the least possible deviation from our previously established and tested position. As regularly happens in any sphere of science, the interplay between theoretical concepts and experimental observations is such that one or the other may be the more advanced at any given time, and may hence contribute to the development of the less advanced phase. There is substantial evidence that our current theoretical concepts regarding instinctual drives are lagging behind clinical developments in ego psychology. This is not to say that all of the essentially useful formulations in this area of the past are any less useful today, but that, like any growing organisms, certain additional hypotheses may now be fruitfully employed. This was brought home to me quite forcibly by the recent increased use of the paradoxical term 'non-instinctual energy' in the attempt to describe energic sources for certain fundamental ego operations neither libidinal nor aggressive in origin. If such energies exist, it is essential that a place be found for them in our theory of instinctual drives.

Throughout the development of psychoanalysis the theory of instincts has had, as its basis, the principle that it should embrace the psychic representation of all sources of inner needs or stimuli as opposed to external stimuli (7). With the development of ego psychology and the discovery of the organizing and synthesizing operations conducted by the ego, there is now a definitive need to include the energic sources of such operations within a theory of instincts.

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