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Shulman, M.E. (1987). On the Problem of the Id in Psychoanalytic Theory. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 68:161-173.

(1987). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 68:161-173

On the Problem of the Id in Psychoanalytic Theory

Michael E. Shulman


The id per se has ceased being a topic for explicit speculation for some time in psychoanalysis. This paper first examines certain problems posed by the concept 'id' via a close reading of a passage from Freud in which the complex and paradoxical interrelationship of ego and id is reviewed. Several aspects of the concept 'id' are differentiated from each other. The implications of a dialectical relationship of ego and id are explored, as are the consequences for the understanding of the id of the anxieties imposed on the infant by its life situation and its 'sensing' impulses and fleeing them before it can know them. The relationship of id impulse and infantile need to the concepts of intention and avowal is considered, and fundamental differences between the infant and adult human subject vis-à-vis knowing and intending are clarified. These examinations pave the way for a critique of the recent work of Gill, Eagle, and especially, of Schafer, concerning metapsychology and the nature of psychoanalysis as a science. It is shown that some concept of id as a pre-intentional force operating in human lives and linking these lives to a nature beyond individual intending is necessarily implied in any adequate psychoanalytic science.

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