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Friedman, J.A. (1993). Why Freud's Death Drive. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 16(2):125-134.

(1993). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 16(2):125-134

Why Freud's Death Drive

John A. Friedman, Ph.D

I have written previously on Freud's Todestrieb (see Friedman 1992a, 1922b) with my findings in close agreement with those of Ikonen & Rechardt (1978, 1993). In order to establish an adequate context for my present remarks, I will briefly review my past work. Once such a foothold has been gained, we will be in a position to make some general remarks on both the necessity of retaining this notion of Freud's and some of the inevitable consequences if it is disavowed. Finally, in an effort to broaden and deepen our sense of that aspect of the psyche originally named by Freud as Todestrieb, I will offer up a few reflective comments on the significance of Ikonen and Rechardt's (1993) use of the term “peace” as it pertains to these matters.

I have shown, along with Rechardt & Ikonen (1993), that Freud's presentation of the death drive has nothing to do with a simple wish to die. Freud (1920) undertakes a reflection, a “speculation” in the sense of Greek “theoria” as a vision of the whole, on the nature of instinct/drive (Trieb). His basic insight is that instinct is “conservative”, representing an urge to “restore an earlier state of things” (p. 36). For Freud, the origin is never lost; it is conserved in the most basic and essential manner in human life, i.e., “instinctually”. The origin is conserved and this preservation appears psychically, in Freud's words, as a “striving” that is “circuitous”. The striving is presented to us as “compulsion”, with its form that of repetition. Freud's attempt to comprehend psychic life in this fashion is “biological” as long as we understand this as a disclosure of logos bios.

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