Beyond the Pleasure Principle
A. Written by Sigmund Freud in 1920, responded to ¡§narcissism¡¨ (Gay 594)
B. A ¡§turning point in theory,¡¨ ¡§shifts in psychoanalysis thinking¡¨: theme of competing life and death replaced libidinal and egoistic drives
C. Different to Freud¡¦s former theoretical papers: ¡§remote¡¨ from his ¡§clinical experience
D. Preoccupation of death: assumed to be the impact of the death his beloved daughter Sophie in January 1920, but the chronology proved this to be false.
II. The pleasure principle
A. Definition: ¡§a key motivating principle of the unconscious which involves the urge to gratify basic drives immediately and to avoid the experience of pain or ¡¥unpleasure¡¦¡¨ (Statt pleasure principle).
B. From ¡§the principle of constant¡¨: ¡§special case of Fetchner¡¦s principle of the tendency toward stability¡¨ (Rickman 142)
* Fetchner¡¦s law: ¡§Large increase in the intensity of a stimulus produce smaller, proportional increases in the intensity perceived¡¨ (Statt Fetchner¡¦s law).
C. Become invalid in difficult reality
1. Replaced by the ¡§reality principle¡¨: retain gratification
2. One source of pain
D. Dominate ¡§operation of the sex impulses¡¨ (Rickman 143)
E. Major sources of pain: innate instincts conflict with ¡§eternal world¡¨ and anticipated pain and danger in it
„³ Repression: painful mental process
III. Psychic process and stimuli
A. Consciousness: the ¡§functioning¡¨ of system Cs
B. Pcpt-Cs (perceptual consciousness): in between of ¡§outer and inner¡¨ (151)
C. The ¡§immediate contact with the outer world¡¨ makes the excitation process vanish without leaving in system Cs.
D. Functioning of the superficies of the vesicle:
„² Keep off
External stimuli „³ the superficies „³ layers (resistance within them) „³ decrease into fragment „³ leave traces in system Cs „³ collect information of outer world
E. Traumatic neurosis: result from ¡§an extensive rupture of the barrier against stimuli¡¨ (155).
F. Unconscious mental process is ¡§timeless¡¨ for ¡§they are not arranged chronologically, time alters nothing in them, nor can the idea of time be applied to them¡¨ (153).
IV. Repetition compulsion
A. The case of Freud¡¦s grandson, Ernst Halberstadt: the ¡§disappearance and return¡¨ game
1. A wish to master a uncomfortable situation
2. To revenge indirectly to his mother
3. Pain to pleasure
1. Definition: ¡§the process whereby the patient transfers his feelings about other people who are very important to him on to the analytic¡¨ (Statt transference)
2. To collect the information of patient¡¦s past, but not always practical
3. Also shown in sound people: a sense of ¡§endless repetition of the same¡¨ (Rickman 150)
C. The study of dreams
1. Traumatic neurotics are taken back too painful situation in their dreams.
2. The attempt of the dreams is ¡§restoring control of the stimuli by developing apprehension¡¨ (156)
3. The dreams reveal the wish to ¡§conjure up again what has been forgotten and repressed¡¨ (157).
D. A ¡§source of pleasure¡¨: ¡§rediscovery of the identity¡¨ (158)
E. Life and death: ¡§¡¥The goal of all life death¡¦¡¨, ¡§¡¥The inanimate was there before the animate¡¦¡¨ (160)
1. Self-preservative instincts „²„³ death
2. Reproduction is only to lengthen ¡§the path to death¡¨ (161)
3. Impulse toward perfection
a. The development of humans is equal to that of animals
b. Humans strive to a higher goal but fail, and thus they acquire satisfaction by attaining the old goal.
4. ¡§Inner law of being¡¨: death (164)
1. What makes the pleasure principle special in the principle of the tendency towards stability?
2. How do the external stimuli interact with inner excitations (the instincts)? Do they cooperate or conflict with one another?
3. The external excitations that break through the barrier would cause trauma, while the inborn instincts also conflict with the outer world. Which destructive force is key to the genesis of neurosis?
4. Do you agree with Freud¡¦s claim that human development does not surpass animal development?
5. According to Freud¡¦s assumption, what is beyond the pleasure principle?
Gay, Peter, ed. The Freud Reader. New York: W. W. Norton, 1989.
Rickman, John, ed. A General Selection from the Works of Sigmund Freud. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1957.
Rivkin, Julie, and Michael Ryan, eds. Literary Theory: An Anthology. Massachusetts: Blackwell Pub., 1998.
Statt, David. Dictionary of Psychology. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1981.