What prompted Freud to restrict the hegemony of the pleasureprinciple, which had so enlarged the comprehension of human phenomena? Philosophers long before him had agreed on the importance of the search for pleasure. The ethical question was: what pleasures were worthy for humans, and what pain should be endured for the good of a worthy pleasure? As we know, Freud used five sources of evidence connected with the repetition compulsion: traumatic neuroses, dreams, infantile play, transference neuroses, and fate neuroses. In regard to the pleasureprinciple he transformed a neurological description—in terms of discharge—to a psychological description: that wishes, derived from drives, aim for a behavior adapted to satisfaction.
The author explores what he considers to be the problems with Freud's thinking in regard to the pleasureprinciple, the repetition compulsion, and the deathinstinct. He believes that theoretical problems are indeed created by abandoning the Freudian hypothesis of the deathinstinct. For instance, it becomes necessary to find alternative explanations of the severity of conscience to those offered by Freud in 1923. Similarly, we change our understanding of Kleinian ideas about the schizoparanoid position. All this serves as prologue, however, to a clinical proposition: the thesis that whatever their genesis, fate neuroses are only a form of borderlineneurosis: they share problems in reality testing and impulsivity.
Three detailed clinical examples illustrate this thesis. In the first, compulsive acts that seem manifestations of a fate neurosis are explained through unconscious
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anxiety that operates within the boundaries of the pleasureprinciple, inflicting a “lesser pain” to avoid a catastrophe. In the second, the dynamics are similar, the pathology less severe, resembling forms in which all neurotics sacrifice their capacity for fulfillment and pleasure to gratify feelings of guilt. In the third clinical case, the understanding is achieved through viewing the patient's “self castration” as a stratagem, a falsification, to disguise oedipal wishes. The feminine identification was a narcissistic defense (as described by Chasseguet-Smirgel in 1984), in this example not strong enough to constitute a perversion but sufficient to “fool” the father in its Promethean, almost manic intensity. In previous work Hanly postulated an aggressive instinct activated by frustration of object or narcissistic libido, or ego instincts. Here he argues that fate neuroses do not prove a kind of repetition compulsion that would justify the hypothesis of the deathinstinct. Discussing also Loewald's ideas about obsessive compulsions and repetition compulsion, the author postulated that disturbed adaptation and expectations regarding the objects are sufficient to determine recurrent self-destructive behaviors. Finally, the author reflects on the subject of establishing criteria to evaluate psychoanalytic hypotheses.
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Chiarandini, I.C. (1996). Revista de Psicoanálisis.. Psychoanal. Q., 65:850-851