Affection: aim-inhibited sexuality. We connect because we can't spend all our time having
Aggression: for Freud, intinctive and innate. See Thanatos.
Agoraphobia: the ego's method of self-limitation for avoiding the anxiety of acting out a sexual
desire. Don't leave the house without id.
Anaclitic: the kind of love that is directed toward an object, usually a parent.
Anal Character: one fixed at the anal level of psychosexual development, when the
libido charges the anus with energy. People stuck at this early stage are regarded as parsimonious, obstinate,
the purpose of: to give the ego more control over
the repressed id impulses. "Where there is id, there shall ego be."
the fundamental rule of: to say whatever what comes into one's
mind without censoring any of it. See free association.
Anti-Cathexis: a process of internal frustration that, evolved from experiences of external frustration,
sets up and maintains a repression. It involves the withdrawal of libido from whatever is being
repressed. Anti-cathexes also oppose the impulsive cathexes otherwise made by the id toward objects.
three types: reality (anxiety about the external world), normal
or moral (anxiety about the superego's (originally, the parents') punishing shoulds and oughts), and neurotic (anxiety that
a repressed sexual wish might surface). Anxiety is felt only by the ego and might have hereditary components.
In his later work Freud referred to anxiety as a danger signal.
Heritage: phylogenetic remnants of the species' mental functioning
such as inherited dispositions, ideational contents, and memory traces from former generations. Unlike Jung, who coined the term "collective unconscious" (now often referred to as the "objective psyche"), Freud gave these inherited
remnants little more than a mention; for him, the wishes, feelings, and aggressions derived from the present life held much
more importance. However, he does discuss them as a link between group and individual psychology, a repository of the ancestral
memory of the murdered primal father (see Primal Horde), and the reason why Oedipal and castration
fears are often excessive in comparison to actual family-of-origin dynamics.
Association: the link between one mental content and another. To Freudian thought itself, for
example, some people associate trains going into tunnels.
Autoerotism: Havelock Ellis's term for the baby's habit of pleasing itself sensually with its
own body. In normal development it gives way to an erotism directed at love partners.
Bind: the process by which the secondary process manages or traps free libido.
Thinking instead of fucking, for instance. (Obviously, binding has disadvantages as well as advantages....)
Bisexuality: what we all have going psychically. For Freud, this meant that everyone is part
passive (= female) and part active (= male), although later in his career he began to question those problematic traditional
Method: the name Freud and Joseph Breuer gave to their method
of allowing patients to get relief by talking out their previously repressed emotions. Freud quickly realized that this relief
was only temporary and did not produce lasting personality changes.
Castration: what boys fear from their fathers, a fear reinforced by the boy's eventual knowledge
that women have no penis and are therefore "castrated." Castration anxiety forces the boy to repress his sexual desire for
his mother and identify with his father, a formal rival for mother's love, and grow up to smoke a lot of cigars by way of
defensive compensation. See Oedipal Complex.
fear (boys) and penis envy (girl) together make up the "castration complex." Because women feel less intense
castration anxiety (being "castrated" already), they develop less of a superego.
Cathexis: the investment of libido in objects. An example would be Freud's
enormous cathexis of interest around sexuality. Cathexes correspond to ideas, whereas affects are discharge products.
Note: in German the noun Freud uses is Besetzung and the verb is besetzen: occupation, to occupy.
Given Freud's fondness for mechanico-electric metaphors, a more accurate word than cathexis might be charge.
Neurosis: a mental illness whose symptoms are either prohibitions
and atonements (e.g., washing one's hands over and over) or symbolic substitute gratifications. As always for Freud, the problem's
core is repressed sexual wishes--in this case the desire to masturbate. We now call this Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Condensation: the dream's tendency to combine several themes into one dream symbol. In this
way the symbol can stand for several different thoughts, feelings, wishes, ideas.
Conscience: one of two sectors that comprise the superego. Basically, an internalized
critical parent. The conscience turns our innate destructiveness back upon ourselves and thereby safeguards the cohesion of
society. At the same time, renunciations of drive strengthen the conscience. Unlike the ego ideal's internalized
standards, those of the conscience deal mainly with what is "bad." Ultimately, it is fear of castration.
conscience comes about by 1. frustration of a drive, which releases aggression needed to build the conscience, and 2. being
loved, which directs innate aggression back to the person who has it.
Conscious: a quality of the mental life of the ego. The ego uses consciousness
to manage reality, which includes allowing pleasurable id gratifications that don't collide with everyday demands
or provoke the "thou shalt not"s of the superego.
Counter-transference: the therapist's transference projections--in other words, enactment
of old conflicts from the family of origin--onto the patient. Example: when "Anna O" (Bertha Pappenheim) fell in love with
Freud's partner Josef Breuer, he didn't handle it therapeutically; he fled. He did this because the situation aroused intolerable
emotions in him. (For an example of Freud's countertransference, see his Dora paper.) The meaning of countertransference has
broadened since Freud's time to include all the therapist's reactions toward the patient.
Counter-wish: in a dream, an element that appears to contradict a wish but actually fulfills
it. The frustration dreams of a masochist, for instance, who gets off on being frustrated. Hm.
two purposes of: to protect us against nature, and to regulate
our affairs with each other. To adapt to life in a culture, one must repress one's drives (repress one's sexuality
and aggression, displacing the second onto suitable targets outside the culture and sublimating
the first into other achievements). "Man is a savage beast," and to repeat a quotation from Plautus which Freud liked, "Homo
homini lupus" (Man is a wolf to man). So Eros and Ananke (Love and Necessity) are the parents of civilization, and social
restrictions on sexuality are unavoidable.
Were it not
for our need to live with one another, we could allow our drives free play and not be neurotic.
Note: this term, kultur in German, is often mistranslated civilization, as in Civilization and its Discontents
("Discontents" per Freud should be translated "discomfort" or "malaise").
Instinct: should actually be translated "death drive." A fundamental
tendency for life to seek the perfect equilibrium of entropic non-activity--in other words, dissolution. "The goal of life
is death." See Thanatos.
Mechanism: a maneuver employed by the ego to protect itself against
anxiety raised by intolerable impulses. All involve some degree of repression of the unacceptable impulse into unconsciousness.
Examples include denial, idealization, splitting (e.g., both loving and hating someone but keeping both emotions
entirely separate), reaction formation (e.g., becoming a Scoutmaster to prove to yourself that you don't hate children), undoing
(basically, trying to repair an action for which you feel guilty), and an American favorite, intellectualization ("You ask
me how I feel, and it seems to me that the relevancy of the issue has more to do with my sublimated urge to..." blah). Freud's
daughter Anna discovered some more, perhaps because being analyzed by your father makes them so necessary to have handy.
Note: the English term defense is actually farther from what Freud wrote in German: abwehr means
to parry or to ward off, not to defend. Deflection and to deflect are more accurate terms than defense
and to defend.
Déjà Raconté: the patient's illusion of already having said or done something in the therapist's
presence when this did not really occur. The patient indeed had the impulse, but didn't act on it.
Denial: a defense mechanism in which what is true is intellectually denied.
Depression: caused by repressed anger at a lost object (an important person who has become
unavailable, left, or died) directed toward oneself.
Disavowal: a splitting of an ego confronted by some distressing demand from the outer world.
Contrast this with repression, where the demand comes from within.
Displacement: the dream's tricky transfer of high-impact emotionality onto unimportant material
and an emotional cooling to hot material. This and condensation are the most important doers of the distortive
dreamwork that censors the true wishes underneath the dream. Displacement also refers to the tendency of libido
to invest itself in objects other than the original object of its aim. It is therefore a key factor in personality
Dream: an invariably egotistical internal state made external. A brief nightly psychosis.
A regression prompted by an infantile wish seeking fulfillment. "The royal road to the unconscious" because dream symbols
(discovered by Scherner) can be interpreted in a way that enlightens the therapist about what's going on in the patient's
unconscious. Dreams are compromises in that they express a conflict about a wish: pulling together material left over from
the previous day, they fulfill the wish (or several wishes) symbolically but keep that unconscious and the dreamer asleep
through the use of a repressive censor who rewrites the latent emotional material into manifest
imagery difficult to understand. Dreams are invariably the products of conflict and can be prompted by either ego
Note: Freud's work on dreams is often translated in a way that gives the impression of a fixed system of symbols (e.g., tunnels
mean vaginas and towers mean penises).
Dream-day: the day before the dream, and from which it gathers its material.
Series: a serious of similar dreams; it is to be interpreted as
Dreamwork: the mental activity that translates the latent wish-seeking unconscious
material into the manifest imagery that disguises it. Dreamwork is NOT the work one does on a dream. Includes
condensation, displacement of affect, identification, composition, inversion, and secondary
elaboration. (Since Freud's time the dreamwork seems to be falling down on the job. Some of these cigar-in-mouth and
piston-in-shaft and tearing-your-boss's-head-off dreams don't seem to be very well disguised.)
Drive: Trieb in German; this word is almost always translated "instinct,"
incorrectly. By drive Freud meant the bodily demands upon mental life. Freud believed in good materialist fashion that mind
arose from drive, ego from id. A drive has a source (bodily needs that arise from the erogenous
zones), an impetus, an internal aim (temporary removal of the bodily need), an external aim (the steps taken to reach
the final goal of the internal aim), and an object. Drives give rise to the libido-energy that
drives all psychological activity. We never experience the drive itself, just its representation or idea in the mind.
might undergo the following "vicissitudes": reversal into its opposite (via either changing from active to passive or reversing
its content--love into hate); turning around upon the subject; repression; sublimation; and anxiety. The operation of the
first two vicissitudes depends on the narcissistic organization of the ego. All these vicissitudes amount to the drive subjugated
to the three great polarities that regulate psychic life: activity/passivity (biological), ego/external world (real), pleasure/pain
Derivative: associations, symptoms, anxiety, and other kinds of
material derived from a repressed drive.
Ego (Ich): the "I," a rational, organized agency that distills gradually out of a passionate
id that rubs up against reality. Emerging from an undifferentiated mass of sensations (chiefly those emanating
from the surface of the body), formed by identifications and abandoned id cathexes, and strengthened
by speech, which links auditory and visual memory traces with the conscious life, the ego strives to harmonize inner and outer,
drives (which it keeps at bay mainly via repression, sublimation and anticathexes),
inhibition, and reality. Unlike Jung's conception of ego, it is not entirely conscious, though it is the bearer of consciousness.
Topographically, it extends down into the id.
Note: the latinized term ego is unnecessary and mechanical; Freud wrote, and meant, "I."
Ego Cathexes: investments of libido into ego activities like ideas that the ego
knows represent objects. You think about what you want instead of blindly leaping for it because of the energy
investment in your thoughts.
Ego Ideal: the sector of the superego that consists of internalized standards
of what is "good." Shoulds and oughts which for Freud represented the higher human nature.
Ego-Instincts: an early concept denoting the ego's self-preservative drives (as
opposed to the other-directed sexual drives). The concept came about from the notion of conflicts between ego
and sexuality. The duality of Eros and the death drive replaced this old duality.
Complex: the feminine equivalent of the male Oedipal Complex.
A chief difference is that the girl isn't required to shift her identification from her mother to her father. Also, because
of penis envy, she wants to have a baby with her father; this desire later gets acted out by her choice of a
fatherly man to have a baby with. The term "Electra Complex" may have been proposed by Jung.
Conflict: the opposition of a cathexis by an anti-cathexis
(or: being torn between a desire to satisfy a wish and a fear of doing so). Two types: id-ego conflicts and superego-ego conflicts.
(or Erotogenic) Zones: those areas of the body most liable to
sexual stimulation--namely, the mouth, anus, and penis, although Freud regarded the entire body as an erogenous zone.
Eros: one of the two basic sources of all the drives. Eros, whose name
comes from the Greek god of love, is the principle of life; it binds together and is most clearly seen in love. Its drives
tend to be more plastic and displaceable than those of its opponent, Thanatos, the death drive. Freud saw psychic
life as an interplay of these two ever-interpenetrating forces, Life and Death.
Erotogenicity: the activity of a bodily area that conveys sexually exciting stimuli to the mind.
Romance: the tendency to defensively glamorize one's family of
Reconnaisance: a false memory of having told the analyst something
previously. Prompted by a fantasy of wanting to tell something but not following through, perhaps due to resistance.
Fetishism: based on the (usually) male fetishist wanting to avoid his own castration fears
by insisting that women have a penis--namely, the fetish. Hm!
Fixation: when something libidinal is arrested in its development even though the rest of
the personality keeps on growing up.
Force: necessary to the preservation of a society because people have innate aggressive,
incestuous, and cannibalistic tendencies and won't work unless coerced. Freud regarded the conflict between person and culture
to be, at bottom, unresolvable; at best, society's dictates and codes become internalized into a superego that
acts as an internal agent of society.
Free Association: you're talking about a particular image in a dream, or an event that happened
during the day that stuck with you, and your analyst asks: "What does that bring to mind?" Your candid response consists of
associations, "free" because freely experienced and shared. The more superficial and random the associations, the more one
should suspect that the censor is at work.
of this technique begins with "Emmy von N." (Barronness Fanny Moser), a wealthy widow patient who got tired of Freud's questions
and said he should stop asking her where this or that came from, but let her tell what she had to say. She was also the patient
who convinced Freud of the uselessness of hypnosis for deep treatment.
note: Freud here used the word Einfall, which denotes what comes spontaneously into one's mind.
Slip: a mistake, usually of speech, made due to the collision
of conscious and unconscious conflicts. An example made famous by Freud: the reluctant official who opens a meeting by accidentally
declaring it closed, thereby revealing his true wish.
God: an idealized image of a nurturing (and primal) father created to reconcile us
to Fate's cruelty, compensate us for the injustices of life, lend social moralities a divine origin, and personify and appease
the uncontrollable forces of nature. He is a condensation of prior gods. His Judeo-Christian characteristics
unconsciously permeate Freudian thought.
Psychology: Freud distrusted groups, particularly large ones,
almost as much as Jung did. Two key components of mass process: regressive identification with a powerful leader
or idea, and replacement of one's ego ideal with that leader or idea.
Note: Freud wrote mass in German; this is usually mistranslated into "group."
Guilt: from either a dread of an external authority or dread of the demands and punishments
of the superego, an internalized authority. It is through drive-repressing guilt and the resulting sublimations
that civilization arose. Guilt also has a primeval source: the murder of the primal father (see Primal Horde).
Hypnosis: Freud spent a year in Paris learning it from Charcot. Impressed at first, he later
abandoned it; as with the cathartic method, it did not produce long-term results.
Id (Es): the permanently unconscious motivational cauldron of the mind. From the id (the
"it") originate all the drives that impel psychic life. A "residue of countless egos" inherited from prior generations, the
id is the amoral beast within us that seeks only its own gratification through tension discharge. It is powered by the bodily
instincts and is wholly irrational. Analogous to the job of the imperialist and the industrialist, the job of the ego is to
dominate it. (The term id comes from Groddeck, who got it from Nietzsche.)
Note: Freud wrote "the it" in German; this use should be retained rather than the latinized id.
Identification: an early, primitive kind of attachment to an object which results
in incorporating some of its aspects into oneself. Ego and superego make use of identification
to attract libido away from objects and toward themselves, thereby building up the personality. Other types include narcissistic,
goal-oriented, object-loss, and aggressor identification.
Imago: see Object.
Instinct: see drive. Freud discussed instincts, which are relatively unchangeable,
primarily in connection with animal life, not human life.
Introjection: Ferenczi's term for the psychological action by which a person is internalized
and made a part of one's own psyche.
Inversion: 1. Homosexuality, the cause of which, for Freud, was in the boy's failure to disidentify
with Mom and identify with Dad and in the girl's identification with Dad rather than Mom. 2. The dream's transformation of
one thing into its opposite in order to disguise it.
Content: the true thoughts below the manifest imagery
of the dream. Psychoanalysis seeks to translate the "disguised" manifest content into the true latent, and therefore
repressed, wishes of the dreamer.
Libido: the psychosexual energy originating in the id. Libido is the electric
current of the mechanism of personality. It powers all psychological operations, invests desires, and undergoes ready displacement.
It is the basic fuel of the self. Because it is of a relatively fixed quantity, like gasoline in a tank, it obeys laws of
psychical "economy" in that a surplus in one system means a loss somewhere else. It can be either free or bound (Breuer's
Melancholia: see Depression.
Content: what we usually think of as the dream itself, and what
Freudians see as surface, a disguise of the true latent dream material.
Masochism: caused by an alloy of erotism and a sadistic superego. It fills
the ego with a desire to atone by punishing itself. An original or primary masochism develops into a 1. feminine, 2. erotogenic,
or 3. moral masochism via a turning of unresolved sadism against oneself (secondary masochism). Too much internalized death
drive and you get masochism; when directed outward, sadism.
Melancholia: we now call this depression. For Freud it shares with mourning a gradual withdrawing
of libido from an object known to be lost or dead--but it is different in that the unconscious
hatred felt toward the object with which the ego narcissistically identifies is turned against
the ego. One then achieves revenge against the lost object by getting depressed.
Metapsychological: taken together, those aspects of Freud's theorizing that are economical ( the
hydraulics of unpleasure-avoidance through pleasure), dynamic (libido movements among id, ego,
and superego), and topographic (psyche as structured into conscious, preconscious,
and unconscious layers). Metapsychology also takes clinical observations beyond the consulting room and applies
them to everyone, with varying results. Although psychoanalysis began as a treatment method, Freud's real interest was caught
by those theorizings that applied it to human psychology in general. Referring to two recent books, Freud wrote this to his
friend Oskar Pfister:
"I do not
know whether you have guessed the hidden link between my "Lay Analysis" and "Illusion." In the former I want to protect analysis
from physicians, and in the latter from priests. I want to entrust it to a profession that doesn't yet exist, a profession
of secular ministers of souls, who don't have to be physicians and must not be priests."
Moses: based on work by Sellin, Frazier, and others, Freud speculated two Moses: an Egyptian
nobleman who lived near the time of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaton, the founder of the first monotheism, and gave the Hebrews
a modified version of that religion and was killed by them as a result; and a Midianite who resurrected this religion, modified
it still further, and coupled it with the Egyptian rite of circumcision, thereby setting the Hebrews apart as a chosen people.
Narcissism: the investment of libido into oneself. The libidinal equivalent
of egotism. Freud regarded it as a perversion until 1914, when in "On Narcissism" he wrote that normal development means transferring
more and more attention and interest into other people and thereby decreasing one's original or primary state of narcissism.
Primary narcissism is the self-involvement all infants start out with; secondary narcissism is a turning of
libido away from objects back to the ego, as with what we now call the narcissistic
Neurosis: a conflict between ego and id that produces symptoms
of psychological discomfort. This physiologic-sounding term has been changed to "anxiety disorder." That's regrettable, since
many neuroses don't involve conscious anxiety.
results because we live in cultures that require for their cohesion a renunciation of our drives, a repression that makes
us a bit irrational.
Principle: Barbara Low's term for the psychological equivalent
of homeostasis, the push for the least amount of tension. Different from the pleasure principle in that 1. pleasure
sometimes increases with tension, and 2. the Nirvana Principle is primarily under the sway of the death drive,
whereas the pleasure principle is powered by Eros.
Object: a mental representation of a person. Also called an imago.
Complex: the boy's tendency, around the age of five, to experience
his freshly awakened sexual strivings toward his mother while wanting to replace his father in her affections. Mostly unconscious.
When successfully resolved, these feelings are fully repressed, and the boy, afraid of castration, learns to identify with
his father. As a result of all this, he internalizes his parents and acquires a superego whose ego ideal
replaces some of his early narcissism. The feminine equivalent has been named the Electra Complex, but for Freud,
women have inferior superego development and therefore an inferior conscience because they never
have to disidentify with mother as boys do.
an unresolved Oedipal Complex as the cause of every significant neurosis. The name comes from King Oedipus, who killed his
father, married his mother unknowingly, and put his own eyes out (which Freud interprets as symbolic castration) when he discovered
the truth of his origins. In a late innovation, Freud was prompted by the work of female analysts like Helene Deutsch to emphasize
the initial pre-Oedipal strength of the mother-daughter bond.
Oral Character: forever wanting to suck, to consume, to take in, endlessly hungry and needy. See
Orgasm: in women, vaginal rather than clitoral, the latter being a symptom of immaturity.
Paranoia: a defense against unconscious homosexuality. (Later analysts see paranoia as a
projection of the paranoid person's aggressive impulses.)
Parapraxis: Freud never used this word. He wrote of the Fehlleistung, the faulty
achievement, when we mean to do one thing and do another. Slips of the tongue are one example.
Envy: a subset of the castration complex, it involves the supposed
envy of "castrated" women of the male member, which they later seek to possess via pregnancy and childbirth. Freud believed
that women never forgive their mothers for leaving them "castrated" and without a penis. (I've always wondered what Martha
made of that one.)
Perversion: a sexual drive component that fails to come under the dominance of the genital
area and its reproductive needs and instead focuses on some non-reproductive object or aim.
Phobias: in general, due to repressed sexual wishes aroused unconsciously when the phobic
object resembles the yearned-for object of gratification. The phobia of animals = dread of the father.
Principle (long version: the Pleasure-Pain Principle):
our most fundamental striving is toward pleasure and away from pain. Pleasure is what we feel when some kind of tension is
relieved. Two types: forepleasure (infantile stimulation) and endpleasure (mature satisfaction). See Reality Principle.
Perversity: the young child's tendency to get sexual gratification
from damn near anything, regardless of its gender or nature. As a result of psychosexual development, this tendency
is usually replaced by "normal" heterosexuality.
Preconscious: that which upon reflection could become conscious voluntarily. For instance, remembering
your wife's name when you weren't thinking about her. The ego's inner layer. That which is unconscious is repressed
and therefore held out of awareness.
Thinking: the id's tendency to treat dissimilar
objects as identical. See Primary Process.
Horde: the original primitive grouping of humanity headed by a
father-authority who forbad incestuous actings-out among younger men, who, to gain their sexual freedom, eventually overpowered
and eating him and thereby discovered the powers and benefits of community. In a way, similar to what befell the Wednesday
Fantasies: unconscious fantasies stemming from having perceived
one's parents having sex.
Process: produces a memory image of an object needed for gratification
in order to reduce the frustration of not having been gratified yet. This develops as the id encounters frustrations
of its desires, and it works because for the id, an image is the same as an object ("an identity of perception"). Primary
process is preverbal and dreamlike, not rational as with the ego. It's called "primary" because it comes first
in human development: for Freud if not for later theorists, the baby is, so to speak, all id.
Projection: experiencing someone emotionally in the present in terms of someone in your past.
Psychoanalysis: the theories and therapies that have evolved from Freud's work with his patients.
Examples include neoanalysis, object relations, ego psychology, self psychology, and intersubjectivity.
Psychodynamic: the perspective that personality is constituted by interacting and sometimes conflicting
Development: Freud's developmental notions, many inspired by Karl
Abraham's original work, centered around the idea that libido invests certain bodily zones with energy as the
child grows older. The order of stages is: oral (birth to eight months), anal (eight months to two years), phallic (two years
to six), latency (six to twelve), genital (puberty to adult). As one masters the stages, one's ability to exert ego control
over one's drives grows.
can fixate a person on any of these stages and thereby produce a lasting effect on character: the greedy, ever-empty, grasping
oral type; the fanatically orderly and controlling anal type; the thrusting, ambitious phallic type; the quiescent latent
type (this one isn't seen as so pathological)--and the mature outcome of a successful upbringing OR analysis, the genital
type, devoted to love and work. (Study question: to which type does the popular bumper sticker DON'T BE A DICK refer?)
Psychosis: whereas a neurosis is a conflict between ego and id,
psychosis is a conflict between ego and reality.
Pleasure-Ego: that sector of the ego that rids itself
of badness by projecting it onto external objects.
Principle: the ego's sense of realistic and rational adaptive
expectations. This principle evolves from and governs the heedless hedonism of the Pleasure Principle, at least
in people who aren't wealthy.
Reality-Testing: the knack of distinguishing between inner and outer, fantasy and externality.
Regression: a return, temporary or chronic, to an earlier level of psychological development.
(An example would be the second Bush administration.)
Religion: a childlike yearning for an all-powerful Parent to take away feelings of helplessness
that arise from confronting the forces of nature. A collective neurosis. An illusion (not necessarily an error) arising from
childish wishes, religion spares many a believer an individual neurosis by reducing him to "psychical infantilism." The first
religion was a form of totemism.
Compulsion: the urge to do the same thing over and over, especially
in terms of relationship patterns (e.g., always winding up with the same kind of partner). Rather than seeing it as unlearned
lessons reconstellated in the present, Freud linked this to the death drive's push toward a conservative return
to previous conditions. (What's with a guy who doesn't believe religion has any truth but makes his entire drive apparatus
conservative? You figure it out.)
Repression: the ego's ridding itself of unacceptable desires and ideas by dumping them into
unconsciousness. Three conditions lead to a return of the repressed into consciousness: when the counter-cathexis
holding it down weaken; when the drives below it get stronger; or when recent events similar in theme to what's
repressed reawaken it; in all three cases the repressed shows up in the very method used for repression (e.g., an archeologist
who represses his erotic nature falling in love with an alluring statue). "Primal repressions" are handed down from the painful
experiences of prior generations (example: incest taboo) and keep certain contents of the id from ever becoming
conscious. "Repression proper" (also called "after-expulsion") has to do with the repression of associations and ideas related
to whatever idea is chiefly being repressed. An aim of psychoanalysis is to turn repression into condemnation.
Note: in German, Freud wrote about verdrangung, which really ought to be translated into repulsion and
Resistance: the patient's effort to remain unconscious of what is repressed. Common forms
of resistance include arguing with the therapist, refusing to free associate, forgetting to show up for a session, reducing
spirit to a compensation for helplessness, and deploying defense mechanisms in order to remain unaware of unconscious
material. The negative therapeutic reaction is the most difficult form of resistance and is motivated by the need to expiate
an unconscious sense of guilt via self-defeating behavior.
Scopophilia: the pathological enjoyment that comes with watching sexual activity. This is a
mistranslation of Schaulust, "sexual pleasure in looking."
Memories: memory fragments that cover a child's earliest and forgotten
Elaboration: the dreamer's tendency to fill in gaps in the dream
and explain its mysteries in order to understand it better. This usually leads to significant misunderstandings of the dream's
true latent content.
Process: the ego's reality-testing and energy-binding capability.
In other words, thinking and reasoning. See Primary Process.
Sexuality: obtaining physical pleasure. A much wider notion than reproduction and one that
extends over the entire lifespan. It was apparently Wilhelm Fleiss, an intelligent crank who became Freud's closest friend,
who got him thinking about childhood sexuality. See eros.
Rivalry: based in what Freud, who'd been a momma's boy, saw as
a result of childrens' overriding egotism. See Projection (just kidding).
Soul: James Strachey has almost everywhere translated Seele--soul--into
"mind" in his Revised Edition of Freud's works and its operations into the medical-sounding "mental apparatus." For Freud,
soul was the overarching reality of all psychic functioning, conscious and unconscious. It had no sense for him of something
supernatural, but it was his preferred term when describing the psyche as a whole as well as its very essence. If archetypal
psychologist James Hillman has placed soul on an imaginal basis, Freud was the first to bring it into the realm of psychological
Spirituality: the power of abstract thought. For this reason Freud saw the commandment against
idolatry as an elevation of culture: our object of central concern, God, has become invisible and therefore abstract. See
Sublimation: when a sexual drive is directed into a different aim, like daily work, creativity,
piety, etc. (Jung didn't like that Freud came up with this concept, so he coined a term that means pretty much the same thing but called it
psychization.) It was Goethe who introduced this term into common German usage; Hegel took it up later, as did
(Uber-Ich): formed out of but less conscious than the ego,
an agency that safeguards society from uncontrolled acting out by giving the person an internalization of all environmental
inhibitions, particularly those of the parents. Developed as a result of
millennia of Judeo-Christian patriarchal moralizing
the resolution of the Oedipal complex, it fills you with guilt when you deviate from your internal standards.
It's a kind of parent-within formed of reaction formations to unconscious sexual wishes; obeying it results
in the secondary narcissism of pride, an expectation of being loved by a parent figure, and disobeying it creates
guilt. One of the therapeutic tasks is to lower its demands, which emanate less from the parents than from the
It is subdivided
into the conscience and the ego ideal and reaches deep down into the id.
Note: "Over-I" is more experience-near than the more ponderous translation superego, which makes it sound
like a mechanism rather than something we harbor psychically.
Symptom: a partial satisfaction of a repressed wish. Symptoms blend repressive mechanisms
with symbolic satisfactions; for that reason Freud considered them compromise formations. Every symptom has some anxiety behind
Thanatos: the mythic name students of Freud gave to the death drive he postulated in 1920
in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. This drive represents the organic need to return to lifelessness and stasis,
the ultimate calm of lifeless non-conflict. Freud traced all aggressive and destructive activity to this notion, which impressed
him deeply after the outbreak of one world war and the death of his daughter Sophie. That portion of the drive which is turned
outward benefits the organism, which would otherwise direct it against itself. However, Freud did concede that destructiveness
also affords the ego satisfaction of its old narcissistic need for omnipotence.
Taboo: a sacred-feeling prohibition that applies to an entire group. Its true purpose
is to keep incestuous wishes unconscious. The rituals surrounding the taboo are similar to those of obsessive-compulsive neurosis
but are collective rather than personal.
Telepathy: Freud believed tentatively in the possibility of telepathy, linking it with the
emergence of psychic material from the primary to the secondary process.
Topographical: Freud's division of psyche into three layers: the preconscious,
the conscious, and the unconscious.
Totem: a common ancestor of a clan. Symbolized most often by an animal, it symbolizes
the clan's guardian spirit or helper. Psychologically, the totem is a stand-in for the father.
Totemism: the earliest form of religion, intended to forbid incestuous desires felt by family
members toward one another. Freud regarded it as the basis of all other social obligations and norms.
Transference: a type of projection in which early parental conflicts are reexperienced
with the therapist, whose job is to interpret them back to the patient. Freud first saw transference as a hindrance because
it distorted the relationship between patient and therapist; later, he argued that a positive transference onto the analyst
could help the psychoanalysis progress. He distinguished three kinds: negative, erotic, and sensible.
Neuroses: those caused by situations of unusually high stress.
They are the sole possible exception to the rule of neuroses being caused by unresolved Oedipal conflicts.
Unconscious: that which is repressed out of awareness. Its core is instinct-representations
consisting of wish-impulses. Also, see Id.
Undoing: a defense mechanism by which we try to undo something we feel shouldn't have been
done to begin with. (Example: doghouse flowers.)
Wit-work: the process by which a denied impulse (invariably hostile or obscene) is converted
into a joke. Similar to dreamwork.
Women: needier, more demanding of affection, less governed by conscience, more prone
to neurosis and hysteria, fundamentally passive, more narcissistic. For more about this, see Projection. (In
all fairness, it should be noted that Freud, a strong advocate for women becoming analysts, worked actively and vocally against
attempts to block women from entering his profession.)
Z: Z End of this Glossary points out that the more cynical, patriarchal, reductive,
and downright flaccid elements of Freud's theories have received thorough constructive criticism that has reworked them where
possible and demolished the rest. His empirical formulation of the unconscious, the psyche as a dynamic and often defended
field of action, the transference and countertransference as metaphors of highly charged encounter, the psychotherapy session
as container of unearthable secrets, and the person as sensually vital throughout the lifespan, ever loving and working, remain
at large, still puncturing the characteristically Western narcissism that would have us ego-masters in our own psychical houses.
otherwise, and proved it. His devotion to psychological investigation, even when personally painful and vocationally unwise,
has stood the test of time.