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Dunn, J. (1993). Psychic Conflict and the External World in Freud's Theory of the Instinctual Drives in Light of his Adherence to Darwin. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:231-240.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:231-240

Psychic Conflict and the External World in Freud's Theory of the Instinctual Drives in Light of his Adherence to Darwin

Jonathan Dunn


Freud's theory of the instinctual drives is examined in the light of his adherence to Darwinian thought. In this scheme, the drives arise from the interaction between biological and environmental stimuli and are dialectically constructed from both pressures: internal and external phenomena reciprocally organise each other and attempts to conceptualise them as separate entities restrict the degree to which we can understand the nature of mental life. Inhibition that became built-in to biological stimuli redirected and 'elevated' these bodily urges to representational functioning, a phylogenetic

process which developed from environmental demands in the species' struggle to survive. These ideas bear upon Freud's notion that ubiquitous mental conflict, environmental sensitivities, and primitive id and ego (including defence) organisations are inherent components of instinctual activity. This construction is compared to Freud's other models of the instinctual drives. The attitude conveyed by the metapsychological suppositions put forward is related to the clinical situation.

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