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Stokes, A. (1960). A Game that Must be Lost. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 41:70-76.

(1960). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 41:70-76

A Game that Must be Lost

Adrian Stokes


The aims of instinctual urges are never abandoned nor always reconciled under the pressure of reality: out of this situation there arise the developments and divisions of the psyche and the elaboration of the ego's defences. Are these vast, complicated structures, then, the fruit of so simple a conflict, or is the incessant and always acute character of conflict due as well to an absolute opposition in the first place between basic drives themselves?

There is today no agreement over the matter: the disagreement is the principal cause for conflict in the psycho-analytic movement. I am on the side that favours an initial scene of inner conflict per se, in accordance with Freud's later theory. I suspect that even in the distant past, had there existed in the theory of conflict this stronger duality, neither Adler nor Jung could have driven monist paths at the edges of psycho-analytic understanding.

Do you conceive of pressures from the external world, from reality and the instinct of self-preservation, as the entire other term in conflict with the urges of the sexual instincts? There has been much attraction in this view: it appears that a more profound basis for inner conflict is a hesitant demand solely of psychology among the biological sciences. Yet libido as a whole, it seems to me, requires an inner opponent if we are to find good reason for the very existence of the ego itself, the hardened rind of the id that withstands the pressures, frustrations, and dangers of the external world.

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