Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Thanatos

  • Jonathan J. DetrixheEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_637-1

Introduction

Freud used the term “Thanatos” to refer to his hypothesized “death instinct.” Thanatos was a frightening character in Greek mythology, and now, as a psychoanalytic term, Thanatos expresses one of the most troubling aspects of Freud’s unique vision of humanity – our innate destructiveness.

In Greek mythology, Thanatos, the god of death, was one of the “fearsome gods” for Hesiod in his Theogony (trans. 1988, p. 25). He was the son of Night and the brother of Sleep. Thanatos “has a heart of iron and a pitiless spirit of bronze in his chest. That man is his whom he once catches, and he is hateful even to the immortal gods” (p. 25). And yet he is not invincible: Sisyphus, the mythological Greek king punished by the gods for his arrogance, was able to tie up Thanatos and defeat him; also Hercules beat Thanatos in a wrestling match (Buxton 2004, pp. 89, 171).

According to biographer Earnest Jones (1957, p. 295), Freud never used the word Thanatos in his writing, only in...

Keywords

Armed Conflict Organic Life Cellular Organism Greek Mythology Clinical Understanding 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Buxton, R. (2004). The complete world of Greek mythology. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.Google Scholar
  2. Freud, S. (1925). Negation. The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 6, 367–371.Google Scholar
  3. Freud, S. (1933). Why war? In J. Strachey (Ed.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of sigmund Freud, Volume XXII (1932–1936): New introductory lectures on psycho-analysis and other works. London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis (pp. 195–216).Google Scholar
  4. Freud, S. (1960). The ego and the Id. (J. Riviere, Trans.) New York: Norton. (Original work published 1923).Google Scholar
  5. Freud, S. (1961). Beyond the pleasure principle. (J. Strachey, Trans.) New York: Norton. (Original work published 1920).Google Scholar
  6. Hesiod. (trans. 1988). Theogony and works and days. (M. L. West, Trans.) London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Jones, E. (1957). Sigmund Freud, life and work, volume three: The last phase 1919–1939. London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BrooklynUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kevin Meehan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLong Island UniversityBrooklynUSA