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Chiozza, L. (1999). Body, Affect, and Language. Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(1):111-123.

(1999). Neuropsychoanalysis, 1(1):111-123

Body, Affect, and Language

Luis Chiozza

So little is known about the psychology of emotional processes that the tentative remarks I am about to make on the subject may claim a very lenient judgement [Freud, 1926, p. 169].

The Psychoanalytic Theory of Affects

Quota of Affect and Affective Value

Freud developed his ideas on affects in various of his works, yet he never gathered them all into a systematic conception. Perhaps it was his difficulty in producing a unified theory in this regard that gave rise to the controversy continuing among the psychoanalytic authors. Papers by Brierley (1951), Rapaport (1962), Rangell (1967), Sandler (1972), Green (1973), and Limentani (1977) show different readings of the Freudian texts and their bearing upon theory and clinical practice.

Freud stated in various places that the representative agency of the drive is formed by two elements: (1) the representation or idea, and (2) the quantitative factor or drive energy that cathects the representation, and which he calls “quota of affect” or “accretion of excitation,” which, according to Strachey, Freud considered equivalent (1894, p. 61). Thus, affect appears as a quantity, that is, as something that is susceptible to increase, decrease, displacement, or discharge. However, in an article he wrote in French (Freud, 1893, pp. 170-172), he used the term valeur affectif (affective value was nevertheless translated by Strachey as “quota of affect”), whose terms involve an idea of meaning that goes beyond mere quantity.

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