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Freud and the Scene of Trauma$
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John Fletcher

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254590

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254590.001.0001

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Trauma and the Genealogy of the Death Drive

Trauma and the Genealogy of the Death Drive

(p.279) Eleven Trauma and the Genealogy of the Death Drive
Freud and the Scene of Trauma

John Fletcher

Fordham University Press

Chapter Eleven works through Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) to explicate the role of trauma and the associated notion of the compulsion to repeat in the formulation of the Death Instinct. It considers the two different topographical models central to Freudian thought and the opposed principles that regulate them. This involves the principle of neuronic inertia from the 1895 Project and its tendency towards discharge of all excitations and Freud’s problematic subordination to it of Fechner’s principle of constancy as a second order principle that enforces a compromise on the former. This underlies Freud’s problematic economic hypothesis of the Pleasure Principle and his ambiguous placing of it at one point on the side of Constancy and at another point on the side discharge. It follows Freud’s search for painful repetition phenomena supporting the postulation of forces that override the pleasure principle in traumatic dreams, negative transference, fate neuroses. It considers Freud’s theoretical fiction of the vesicle as a simple boundaried psychical entity that develops protective shield against excessive external excitations and the binding role of the compulsion to repeat. It interrogates critically Freud’s contradictory export of the repetition-compulsion to all organic life as a death instinct and Laplanche’s interpretation of it as a reassertion of the underlying dualism and its negative pole within the psychoanalytic field.

Keywords:   compulsion to repeat, bio-traumatology, chiasmus, Freud’s, constancy principle, economic hypothesis, death drive / instinct, pleasure principle, principle of neuronic inertia, topography, vesicle

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