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Federn, P. (1915). Some General Remarks on the Principles of Pain-Pleasure and of Reality. Psychoanal. Rev., 2(1):1-11.

(1915). Psychoanalytic Review, 2(1):1-11

Some General Remarks on the Principles of Pain-Pleasure and of Reality

Paul Federn

Freud's statement that there are two working principles in the human mind, one the principle of pain-pleasure, the other that of reality, is very important for the understanding of all his teaching. These have been much misunderstood, even by his opponent-adherents like Bleuler and Maeder. It would therefore be well to discuss these principles more frequently and I intend only to open that discussion rather than to impart to you any essentially new discoveries.

Many analysts believe that the unconscious is controlled exclusively by the principle of pain-pleasure, while the principle of reality belongs to consciousness. According to Freud, only the first part of this statement is true. He is convinced that the unconscious is controlled only by the principle of pain-pleasure. But of course this must be taken hypothetically, because there exists no opportunity to observe directly any unconscious phenomena. We obtain our knowledge of unconscious processes only after their effects enter into consciousness, and unconscious processes as such can only be studied by analyzing their conscious manifestations.

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