How accurate is the human instinct

Drive and instinct


There is one in humans Self-preservation instinct, on the condition that it should be understood that he 1. represents tenderness and attachment to a large extent, d. This means that it is mediated by mutual communication, that it 2. is covered from the beginning, i.e. hidden by the human and sexual phenomena of seduction on the one hand and narcissistic reciprocity on the other. There is also one in humans Sex drivethat occupies the more important, decisive place, from birth to puberty. It is the subject of psychoanalysis, it is engraved in the unconscious. Finally there is Sexual instinct, in puberty and in adulthood, who finds "the place" "occupied" by the infantile drive. This instinct is consequently very difficult to determine epistemologically, insofar as it does not appear in the real and in a very concrete way in the pure state, but in unclear transactions with the infantile sexual that reigns in the unconscious. The object of psychoanalysis is the unconscious, and the unconscious is above all the sexual in the Freudian sense, the infantile, pre- or para- or genital infantile, instinctual sexual. It is the sexual that has its source in the phantasm itself which is naturally implanted in the body.


To say that human beings also have a self-preservation instinct just as animals is only meaningful in the sense of attachment and affection mediated by mutual communication. It is from the beginning covered up by the truly human sexual phenomena of seduction and narcissistic reciprocity. Beside that we have a sexual drive which has a more important, not to say, decisive role from birth until puberty. This latter is the subject of psychoanalysis because it is anchored in the unconscious. Finally, we also have an (innate, endogenic) sexual instinct which appears in puberty persisting the whole adult life and meets at its appearance the infantile sexual drive which was existing all the time. It is very difficult to give an epistemological definition of the (innate) sexual instinct because it does not manifest itself in a pure form, but only in unclear transactions with infantile sexuality dominating the unconscious. The subject of psychoanalysis is the unconscious and the unconscious is itself the sexuality sensu Freud, the pre-, para- or genital infantile sexuality. The sexual has its origins in the phantasy which is naturally anchored in our body.

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  1. 1.

    Colloquium on January 15, 2000 at UNESCO, published by the magazine Adolescence was organized.

  2. 2.

    See a second issue of the magazine Adolescence, which is dedicated to homosexuality and was published in 2001.

  3. 3.

    Quite apart from the fact that the afterwardness in human beings is very early, certainly already in the second year.

  4. 4.

    See Roiphe and Galenson (1987), in particular Chapters. 13 and 14.

  5. 5.

    Melanie Klein already fought against this idea.

  6. 6.

    The adult, followed by Freud in theory. Theoretical theory imitates ontogenesis once more.


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  1. Paris

    Jean Laplanche

  2. 55 rue de Varenne, F-75007, Paris

    Jean Laplanche

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Correspondence to Jean Laplanche.

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Translated from the French by Udo Hock, Berlin

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Laplanche, J. Drive and Instinct. Forum Psychoanal19, 18-27 (2003).

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