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Pola, A. (2017). Commentary on Wolfgang Loch's Paper ‘Drives and Objects - Observations on the Origins of the Emotional Object World’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(4):1159-1168.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(4):1159-1168

Commentary on Wolfgang Loch's Paper ‘Drives and Objects - Observations on the Origins of the Emotional Object World’ Related Papers

Alfonso Pola

This contribution was originally published by Wolfgang Loch in German in 1981 and has only recently been translated into English by Harriet Hasenclever. It is a wide-ranging conceptual tour de force which presents a revised theory of the establishment of the psychical reality of internal objects and the psychical space of these emotional objects. To this end he bases his treatment specifically on Freud, but also adduces a variety of post-Freudian developments, while in addition drawing on the ideas of psychologists, philosophers, and poets in order to broaden the scope of his descriptions and at the same time to counter the tendency to resort to jargon.

The author begins by addressing the most controversial and theoretical of Freud's propositions, his hypotheses concerning the life and death instincts, advanced in his 1920 text Beyond the Pleasure Principle. In these initial considerations, Loch remarks that Freud seems to be drawing close to a monism of the drives based on the predominance of the death instinct, which, with its tendency to rid itself of stimuli and return to the disorder of the inorganic world, appears to be the entity that provides organic systems with their final objectives. He nevertheless explains that Freud always remained faithful to his dualistic conception, and that for him the introduction of this roundabout route towards death, modified by the circumstances encountered by the earliest organisms, was ultimately recorded in the life instincts, which sought to reproduce states of greater integration and hence of specific increases in stimulation. In this first part of his paper, Loch points out that for Freud, this instinctual theory sufficed to explain the functioning of both animals and human beings. The decisive element in human functioning was in his view the fact that the instincts were manifested in such an unstructured form that a fundamental part of their structuring was determined by the subject's experience in its initial environment - that is, with its primal objects.

Loch thus postulates that the drive object is therefore the most important factor in this development:

It follows that it is the objects, always including their qualities … which transform the drives into psychical phenomena.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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