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Caropreso, F. (2017). The Death Instinct and the Mental Dimension Beyond the Pleasure Principle in the Works of Spielrein and Freud. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(6):1741-1762.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(6):1741-1762

The Death Instinct and the Mental Dimension Beyond the Pleasure Principle in the Works of Spielrein and Freud

Fátima Caropreso

(Accepted for publication 21 December 2016)

In ‘Destruction as Cause of Come-into-being’, Spielrein argues for the need of postulating the existence of a death instinct in mental functioning. The idea that she thus anticipated the concept of death instinct Freud introduced in 1920 is often found in psychoanalytic literature. But the specific meaning of Spielrein's hypothesis is seldom discussed, as well as the extent to which she anticipated Freud's concept. In fact, there are important differences between their views. Besides, a closer analysis of Spielrein's text reveals other ideas that come close to fundamental aspects of Freud's theories from 1920 onwards, particularly the assumption of a more primordial mental functioning than the one regulated by the pleasure principle. But also here there are important differences between the views sustained by both authors. With this in view, the objective of this paper is firstly to discuss some hypotheses formulated by Spielrein in her 1912 work in order to elucidate her concept of death instinct as well as her hypothesis of the existence of a more primitive mental functioning than the one governed by the pleasure principle. Next, the question of the possible similarities and differences with regard to Freud's concepts is also addressed.

[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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