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Friedman, J.A. (1992). Freud's Todestrieb: Part 2. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 19:309-322.

(1992). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 19:309-322

Freud's Todestrieb: Part 2

John A. Friedman


Freud's 1920 essay is actually a meditation on 'binding', bound energy and the repetition compulsion. As such, it continues his 'psychology' of 1895 and so subtends the entirety of his work. The psychical system is then envisioned as one that binds externally- and internally-based excitations through repetition; the essence of the psyche itself is this compulsion to bind.

In his speculation, Freud recognizes this compulsion to bind as an 'urge inherent to restore an earlier state of things'. Life is revealed as originally the 'animation' of the inanimate. This origin, with the compulsion to bind as its mark, is the significance of Freud's claim that the 'aim of life is death'. As for the pleasure principle itself, the binding of excitation through the repetition compulsion serves as the very condition for the possibility of its operation, as the sexual aims give themselves over to a particular object. This binding/repeating function is beyond (jenseits) the pleasure principle.

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