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Schmidt-Hellerau, C. (2005). We are Driven. Psychoanal Q., 74(4):989-1028.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 74(4):989-1028

Original Articles

We are Driven

Cordelia Schmidt-Hellerau, Ph.D.

Is metapsychology out—or in again? Is it a millstone tied around our necks—or is it an intriguing Freudian witch whom we can even dance with? Is the concept of drives an outmoded oddity—or an indispensable companion, inspiring our understanding of the patient's material and even opening new windows for further development? Can we proceed with the concept of structures and object relationships alone—or do we need the concept of drives in order to understand what these object relationships are all about?

The author clearly opts for the second option in each of these pairs of alternatives. Musing on the sophisticated metapsychology debate that unsettled psychoanalysis in the United States for many years, she reviews some of the most frequently quoted objections to the concept of drives. Further, she offers an introduction to modern drive theory with the new duality of sexual and preservative drives, as well as a different concept of aggression, and explains how drives relate to structures—specifically, to the representations of self and object

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