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Rechardt, E. Ikonen, P. (1993). How to Interpret the Death Drive?. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 16(2):84-99.

(1993). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 16(2):84-99

How to Interpret the Death Drive?

Eero Rechardt, M.D. and Pentti Ikonen, Phil-Mag


In this paper, we will put forward the view that psychoanalytic aggression theory should not be limited to relate only to aggressive and destructive behaviour, and the corresponding mental contents, but should be restored to its original scope, so as to make it again a theory of the death drive (Ikonen & Rechardt, 1978, 1980a, b, c, 1993; Rechardt 1986; Rechardt & Ikonen 1986a, b). Thus, the death drive is an obstinate and constantly active striving toward experienced state of peace: an endeavour to eliminate that which is experienced as disturbing or which maintains disturbance. Man imagines death the extreme form of a state of peace, and destruction is but one particular means of striving toward a state of peace. The central and predominant intention of the death drive, its aim and purpose, is precisely peace, in one form or another, to be attained in one form or another. On the plane of psychoanalysis, the question is not of a biologically demonstrable principle but, instead, a basic psychic striving. The theory of libido opened up new vistas by showing that a variety of forms of pleasure were, in fact, mutually alternative manifestations of one and the same sexual libido. The theory of death drive, on its part, seeks to show that there is a wide variety of psychic events, some of them destructive, while others are non-destructive with regard to their intention, which are alternative forms of one and the same striving for a state of peace, i.e., elimination of what is experienced as disturbing.


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