+1 Recommend
0 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: not found

      The current status of the psychoanalytic theory of instinctual drives. I: Drive concept, classification, and development.

      The Psychoanalytic quarterly

      psychology, Women, Unconscious (Psychology), Sexual Behavior, Psychosexual Development, Psychoanalytic Theory, Object Attachment, Motivation, Models, Psychological, Libido, Instinct, Infant, Humans, Gender Identity, Drive, Child, Preschool, Child, Aggression

      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.


          The evolution of Freud's theory of instinctual drives, with the accompanying models of a mental apparatus, is remarkable for its tenacious adherence to addressing the fundamental problems of human psychology, here phrased as the problems of body-mind-environment relationships. The concept of instinctual drives continues to be one of the most pervasive concepts of psychoanalysis, weathering considerable attack over the last several decades, although losing some clarity in the process. I have cited and discussed as basic issues of the concept of instinctual drives: the relationship of observational data and theoretical constructs in psychology; whether our construct of drives is or should be or can be purely psychological; the problem of conceptualizing the ontogenetic origin of mind; the issues of the "force-meaning conjunction" and the problem of psychic energy in psychoanalytic constructs; and the relation of our concept of instinctual drives to the concept of instincts in general. It seems that progress with these fundamental issues might be made by utilizing models that are more homologous with present knowledge in related fields than is Freud's reflex arc model of the nervous system, in order to build a better drive construct within the framework of psychoanalysis. The classification of instinctual drives remains a problem. Clinically, aggression seems to be a factor in conflict, very much like sexuality. Despite widespread acceptance of the idea of aggression as simply parallel to sexuality in all respects, there are major discrepancies. Perhaps aggression cannot be viewed as a drive after all; perhaps our drive construct needs to be modified to accommodate aggression. Certainly, controversy in this area has interfered with the production of good clinical studies which could begin to increase our understanding of aggression and its place in the human personality. The psychoanalytic theory of drive development has probably undergone less change in the last forty years than other aspects of drive theory, although careful observational work has led to alterations of our views of the age of onset of genital awareness, of female sexual development and function, and of the latency period. This is the conclusion of the first of two papers examining the post-Freud development of the theory of instinctual drives in psychoanalysis. The companion paper follows on p. 402 of this issue of The Psychoanalytic Quarterly.

          Related collections

          Author and article information



          Comment on this article