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Beyond the Pleasure Principle

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Beyond the Pleasure Principle (first published in German in 1920 as Jenseits des Lustprinzips) is an essay by Sigmund Freud. It marked a turning point and a major modification of his previous theoretical approach. Before this essay, Freud was understood to have placed the sexual instinct, Eros, or the libido, centre stage, in explaining the forces which drive us to act. In 1920, going "beyond" the simple pleasure principle, Freud developed his theory of drives, by adding Thanatos, also known as the death instinct.

The main importance of the essay resides in the striking picture of human being, struggling between two opposing instincts or drives: Eros working for creativity, harmony, sexual connection, reproduction, and self-preservation; Thanatos for destruction, repetition, aggression, compulsion, and self-destruction.

In sections IV and V Freud posits that the process which cause cell death at a microscopic level might have developed in order to give human beings a death instinct as individuals. This theory has generally been discredited.

Freud also took the opportunity to state the basic differences, as he saw them, between his approach and that of Carl Jung, and covered the history so far of research into the basic drives (Section VI).

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