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(1960). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XL, 1959: The Metapsychology of Pleasure. R. de Saussure. Pp. 81-93.. Psychoanal Q., 29:276.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XL, 1959: The Metapsychology of Pleasure. R. de Saussure. Pp. 81-93.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:276

International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XL, 1959: The Metapsychology of Pleasure. R. de Saussure. Pp. 81-93.

De Saussure discusses the metapsychology of pleasure under four headings.

1. The organization of psychological energy under the pleasure-pain principle. Freud suggested that in infancy all desire is at first gratified by hallucinations; later the infant organizes a secondary system of inhibition and discharge, based not only on the reality principle but also on the more archaic pleasure principle and repetition compulsion. Inhibition is indispensable to secondary process. It should be regarded as an instinctual activity with its own energy, purpose, and pleasure. Freud thought that the prime mover of our actions is a tension or desire that must be appeased; whereas de Saussure agrees with Edith Jacobson that pleasure consists in a maintenance of optimum tension through homeostasis.

2. Study of pleasure as affect. Pleasure is associated with satisfaction of libidinal drives in relation to the object. It has a special quality derived from the erogenous zone associated with each level of development. The relation to the object is of paramount importance. The child experiences reactions of love and hate with regard to the object and himself. The development of ego and superego tempers these feelings in an effort to maintain the optimum tension which we experience as the affect of pleasure.

3. The metapsychology of cure. Repressed complexes contain a libidinal drive, an aggressive drive set in motion by frustration, a charge of anxiety, and an element of guilt. This complex is projected onto a displaced external object which becomes the object of a phobia; the ego avoids it in its effort to withdraw as far as possible from the unassimilated internal emotions. In the transference, the frustration of not being loved induces a reliving of the past but the derivatives of the infantile complex do not encounter the hostilities of the external world and are even accepted with a certain sympathy. The growing insight into their origins also decreases the patient's sense of guilt and anxiety. There is a new reorganization in the ego based more on the reality and less on the pleasure and repetition principles.

4. The pathology of pleasure. In mental health, pleasure experienced by ego, id, and superego is harmonious with itself and with reality. In pathological pleasures, this is untrue.

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Article Citation

(1960). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XL, 1959. Psychoanal. Q., 29:276

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