„An Outline of Psycho-Analysis“ by Sigmund Freud

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An Outline of Psycho-Analysis

Sigmund Freud


Chapter I: The Psychical Apparatus


Psycho-analysis makes a basic assumption, the discussion
of which is reserved to philosophical thought but the justification for
which lies in its results. We know two kinds of things about what we call
our psyche (or mental life): firstly, its bodily organ and scene of action,
the brain (or nervous system) and, on the other hand, our acts of consciousness,
which are immediate data and cannot be further explained by any sort of
description. Everything that lies between is unknown to us, and the data
do not include any direct relation between these two terminal points of
our knowledge. If it existed, it would at the most afford an exact localization
of the processes of consciousness and would give us no help towards understanding
them.

Our two hypotheses start out from these ends or beginnings
of our knowledge. The first is concerned with localization. We assume that
mental life is the function of an apparatus to which we ascribe the characteristics
of being extended in space and of being made up of several portions-whicb
we imagine, that is, as resembling a telescope or microscope or something
of the kind. Notwithstanding some earlier attempts in the same direction,
the consistent working-out of a conception such as this is a scientificnovelty.

We have arrived at our knowledge of this Psychical apparatus
by studying the individual development of human beings. To the oldest of
these psychical provinces or agencies we give the name of id. It contains
everything that is inherited, that is present at birth, that is laid down
in the constitution-above all, therefore, the instincts, which originate
from the somatic organization and which find a first Psychical expression
here [in the id] in forms unknown to us (rem:This oldest portion of the
Psychical apparatus remains the most important throughout life; moreover,
the investigations of psychoanalysis started with it.).


Under the influence of the real external world around
us, one portion of the id has undergone a special development. From what
was originally a cortical layer, equipped with the organs for receiving
stimuli and with arrangements for acting as a protective shield against
stimuli, a special organization has arisen which henceforward acts as an
intermediary between the id and the external world. To this region of our
mind we have given the name of ego.


ÝHere
are the principal characteristics of the ego. In consequence of the pre-established
connection between sense perception and muscular action, the ego has voluntary
movement at its command. It has the task of self-preservation. As regards
external events, it performs that task by becoming aware of stimuli, by
storing up experiences about them (in the memory), by avoiding excessively
strong stimuli (through flight), by dealing with moderate stimuli (through
adaptation) and finally by learning to bring about expedient changes in
the external world to its own advantage (through activity). As regards
Internal events, in relation to the id, it performs that task by gaining
control over the demands of the instincts, by deciding whether they are
to be allowed satisfaction, by postponing that satisfaction to times and
circumstances favourable in the external world or by suppressing their
excitations entirely. It is guided in its activity by consideration of
the tensions produced by stimuli, whether these tensions are present in
it or introduced into it. The raising of these tensions is in general felt
as unpleasure and their lowering as pleasure. It is probable, however,
that what is felt as pleasure or unpleasure is not the absolute height
of this tension but something in the rhythm of the changes in them. The
ego strives after pleasure and seeks to avoid unpleasure. An increase in
unpleasure that is expected and foreseen is met by a signal of anxiety;
the occasion of such an increase, whether it threatens from without or
within, is known as a danger. From time to time the ego gives up its connection
with the external world and withdraws into the state of sleep, in which
it makes far-reaching changes in its organization. It is to be inferred
from the state of sleep that this organization consists in a particular
distribution of mental energy.


The long period of childhood, during which the growing
human being lives in dependence on his parents, leaves behind it as a precipitate
the formation in his ego of a special agency in which this parental influence
is prolonged. It has received the name of super-ego. In so far as this
super-ego is differentiatedÝ
Ýfrom
the ego or is opposed to it, it constitutes a third power which the ego
must take into account.


An action by the ego is as it should be if it satisfies
simultaneously the demands of the id, of the super-ego and of reality-that
is to say, if it is able to reconcile their demands with one another. The
details of the relation between the ego and the super-ego become completely
intelligible when they are traced back to the child’s attitude to its parents.
This parental influence of course includes in its operation not only the
personalities of the actual parents but also the family, racial and national
traditions handed on through them, as well as the demands of the immediate
social milieu which they represent. In the same way, the super-ego, in
the course of an individual’s development, receives contributions from
later successors and substitutes of his parents, such as teachers and models
in public life of admired social ideals. It will be observed that, for
all their fundamental difference, the id and the super-ego have one thing
in common: they both represent the influences of the past-the id the influence
of heredity, the super-ego the influence, essentially, of what is taken
over from other people-whereas the ego is principally determined by the
individual’s own experience, that is by accidental and contemporary events.


This general schematic picture of a Psychical apparatus
may be supposed to apply as well to the higher animals which resemble man
mentally. A super-ego must be presumed to be present wherever, as is the
case with man, there is a long period of dependence in childhood. A distinction
between ego and id is an unavoidable assumption. Animal psychology has
not yet taken in hand the interesting problem which is here presented.


Chapter II:The Theory of the Instincts

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The power of the id expresses the true purpose of
the individual organism’s life. This consists in the satisfaction of its
innate needs. No such purpose as that of keeping itself alive or of protecting
itself from dangers by means of anxiety can be attributed to the id. That
is the task of the ego, whose business it also is to discover the most
favorable and least perilous method of obtaining satisfaction, taking the
external world into account. The super-ego may bring fresh needs to the
fore, but its main function remains the limitation of satisfactions.


Ihe
forces which we assume to exist behind the tensions caused by the needs
of the id are called instincts. They represent the somatic demands upon
the mind. Though they are the ultimate cause of all activity, they are
of a conservative nature; the state, whatever it may be, which an organism
has reached gives rise to a tendency to reestablish that state so soon
as it has been abandoned. It is thus possible to distinguish an indeterminate
number of instincts, and in common practice this is in fact done. For us,
however, the important question arises whether it may not be possible to
trace all these numerous instincts back to a few basic ones. We have found
that instincts can change their aim (by displacement) and also that they
can replace one another-the energy of one instinct passing over to another.
This latter process is still insufficiently understood. After long hesitancies
and vacillations we have decided to assume the existence of only two basic
instincts, Eros and the destructive instinct. (The contrast between the
instincts of self-preservation and the preservation of the species, as
well as the contrast between ego-love and object-love, fall within Eros.)
The aim of the first of these basic instincts is to establish ever greater
unities and to preserve them thus – in short, to bind together; the aim
of the second is, on the contrary, to undo connections and so to destroy
things. In the case of the destructive instinct we may suppose that its
final aim is to lead what is living into an inorganic state. For this reason
we also call it the death instinct If we assume that living things came
later than inanimate ones and arose from them, then the death instinct
fits in with the formula we have proposed to the effect that instincts
tend towards a return to an earlier state. In the case of Eros (or the
love instinct) we cannot apply this formula. To do so would presuppose
that living substance was once a unity which had later been torn apart
and was now striving towards reunion.


In biological functions the two basic instincts operate
against each other or combine with each other. Thus, the act of eating
is a destruction of the object with the final aim of incorporating it,
and the sexual act is an act of aggression with the purpose of the most
intimate union. This concurrent and mutually opposing action of the two
basic instincts gives rise to the whole variegation of the phenomena of
life. The analogy of our two basic instincts extends from the sphere of
living things to the pair of opposing forces – attraction and repulsion
– which rule in the inorganic world.


Modifications in the proportions of the fusion between
the instincts have the most tangible results. A surplus of sexual aggressiveness
will turn a lover into a sex-murderer, while a sharp diminution in the
aggressive factor will make him bashful or impotent.


There can be no question of restricting one or the other
of the basic instincts to one of the provinces of the mind. They must necessarily
be met with everywhere. We may picture an initial state as one in which
the total available energy of Eros, which henceforward we shall speak of
as ‚libido‘, is present in the still undifferentiated ego-id and serves
to neutralize the destructive tendencies which are simultaneously present.
(We are without a term analogous to ‚libido‘ for describing the energy
of the destructive instinct.) At a later stage it becomes relatively easy
for us to follow the vicissitudes of the libido, but this is more difficult
with the destructive instinct.

So long as that instinct operates internally,
as a death instinct, it remains silent; it only comes to our notice when
it is diverted outwards as an instinct of destruction. It seems to be essential
for the preservation of the individual that this diversion should occur;
the muscular apparatus serves this purpose. When the super-ego is established,
considerable amounts of the aggressive instinct are fixated in the interior
of the ego and operate there self-destructively.


    This is one of the dangers to health
by which human beings are faced on their path to cultural development.
Holding back aggressiveness is in general unhealthy and leads to illness
(to mortification4). A person in a fit of rage will often demonstrate bow
the transition from aggressiveness that has been prevented to self-destructiveness
is brought about by diverting the aggressiveness against himself: he tears
his hair or beats his face with his fists, though be would evidently have
preferred to apply this treatment to someone else. Some portion of self-
destructiveness remains within, whatever the circumstances; till at last
it succeeds in killing the individual, not, perhaps, until his libido has
been used up or fixated in a disadvantageous way. Thus it may in general
be suspected that the individual dies of his internal conflicts but that
the species dies of its unsuccessful struggle against the external world
if the latter changes in a fashion which cannot be adequately dealt with
by the adaptations which the species has acquired.It is hard to say anything
of the behavior of the libido in the id and in the super-ego. All that
we know about it relates to the ego, in which at first the whole available
quota of libido is stored up. We call this state absolute, primary narcissism.
It lasts till the ego begins to cathect the ideas of objects with libido,
to transform narcissistic libido into object-libido. Throughout the whole
of life the ego remains the great reservoir from which libidinal cathexes
are sent out to objects and into -which they are also once more withdrawn,
just as an amoeba behaves with its pseudopodia.5 It is only when a person
is completely in love that the main quota of libido is transferred on to
the object and the object to some extent takes the place of the ego. A
characteristic of the libido which is important in life is its mohility,
the facility with which it passes from one object to another. This must
be contrasted with the fixation of the libido to particular objects, which
often persists throughout life.


There can be no question
but that the libido has somatic sources, that it streams to the ego from
various organs and parts of the body. This is most clearly seen in the
case of that portion of the libido which, from its instinctual aim, is
described as sexual excitation. The most prominent of the parts of the
body from which this libido arises are known by the name of ‚erotogenic
zones, though in fact the whole body is an erotogenic zone of this kind.
The greater part of what we know about Eros-that is to say, about its exponent,
the libido-has been gained from a study of the sexual function, which,
indeed, on the prevailing view, even if not according to our theory, coincides
with Eros. We have been able to form a picture of the way in which the
sexual urge, which is destined to exercise a decisive influence on our
life, gradually develops out of successive contributions from a number
of component instincts, which represent particular erotogenic zones.


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