Something Was Lost in Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle: A Ferenczian Reading*


Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) brought a lot of new possibilities to psychoanalytic theory, but also a series of losses. While I recognize the importance of the death drive as a metapsychological construct, I argue that the first thing that went missing with the arrival of this groundbreaking Freudian text is the theorization of the ego instincts or the self-preservative drives. Freud never articulated some plausible inheritors of the ego instincts. I follow the Budapest School, and especially the voice of Sándor Ferenczi, for addressing this loss. The second thing that went missing after Beyond the Pleasure Principle is our openness in thinking through repetition. With the seductive formulation of the “daemonic” repetition in this 1920 text, our theoretical imagination around repetition seems to have been affected. I draw on the work of Sándor Ferenczi for exploring new forms of repetition. Finally, I offer a Ferenczian re-reading of the Freudian Nachträglichkeit, which I see as crucial in the process of pluralizing our thinking on repetition.

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The author would like to thank Stephen Frosh, Ana Maria Furtado, Claudia Garcia, Endre Koritar and Carlos Lannes. The writing of this article was supported through a Wellcome Trust Fellowship in Medical Humanities.

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Correspondence to Raluca Soreanu.

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Address correspondence to Raluca Soreanu, Ph.D., Department of Psychosocial Studies, School of Social Science, History and Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London, 26 Russell Square, Room 230, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B 5DQ, UK.

*This paper is part of the Second Toronto Special Issue, The Heritage of a Psychoanalytic Mind (Koritar & Garon, 2017).

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Soreanu, R. Something Was Lost in Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle: A Ferenczian Reading*. Am J Psychoanal 77, 223–238 (2017).

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  • repetition
  • reliving
  • the death drive
  • ego instincts
  • self-preservative drives
  • Nachträglichkeit