Psychic energy is the motivational impetus or energy which is directed into mental content and all psychological processes.
Psychic energy is a theoretical construct used to explain motivation and other related psychoanalytic concepts of human behavior. Freud (1949) defined psychic energy as the motivational force that is directed into all mental content and all psychological processes; however, it is important to note that his definition of the term changed as his theory evolved. Psychic energy was initially defined in purely physiological terms, but as his work progressed, Freud began to note its purely psychological basis. Unfortunately, this change led to great confusion among his fellow psychoanalysts. Further confusion has also been provoked by the different contexts and interpretations in which psychic energy has been applied within both classical theory and contemporary psychoanalysis (Black 2003).
Freud’s Work Expanded
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- Freud, S. (1949). An outline of psycho-analysis. London: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- Holt, R. R. (1967). Beyond vitalism and mechanism: Freud’s concept of psychic energy. Science and Psychoanalysis, 11, 1–41.Google Scholar
- Hyman, M. (1975). In defense of libido theory. Annual of Psychoanalysis, 3, 21–36.Google Scholar