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Related: motivation - eros - thanatos - behaviour - id - unconscious - baser intincts - human nature

Baser instincts: hedonism - escapism

Freud believed that humans were driven by two instinctive drives, libidinal energy/eros and the death instinct/thanatos. Freud's description of Eros/Libido included all creative, life-producing instincts. The Death Instinct represented an instinctive drive to return to a state of calm, or non-existence and was based on his studies of protozoa. (See: Beyond the Pleasure Principle). Many have challenged the scientific basis for this claim. [Apr 2006]

The Id (Latin, "it" in English, "Es" in the original German) represented primary process thinking our most primitive need gratification type thoughts. The Id, Freud stated, constitutes part of one's unconscious mind. It is organized around primitive instinctual urges of sexuality, aggression and the desire for instant gratification or release.[Apr 2006]


Instinct is the word used to describe inherent dispositions towards particular actions. Instincts are generally an inherented pattern of responses or reactions to certain kinds of situations. In humans, they are most easily observed in responses to emotions. Instincts generally serve to set in motion mechanisms that evoke an organism to action. The particular actions performed may be influenced by learning, environments, and natural principles. Generally, instinct is not used to describe an existing condition or established state.

Examples can be observed in the behavior of animals, which perform various activities (sometimes complex) that are not based upon prior experience (such as reproduction and feeding by insects). Other examples include animal fighting, animal courtship behavior, and internal escape functions.

Some sociobiologists and ethologists have attempted to comprehend human and animal social behavior in terms of instincts. Psychoanalysts have stated that instinct refers to human motivational forces (such as sex and aggression). This use of the term has mainly been disreguarded. The motivational forces among humans are now generally referred to as instinctual drives. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instinct [2004]

Eros and Thanatos

[There is an interesting difference between Freud and Nietzsche that can be seen clearly here. Nietzsche's sole metaphysical commitment is the singular will to power, out of which everything else is spun --- all the more horrifying, then, that the singular life force itself can become responsible for so great a psychic catastrophe. Freud eventually commits himself to a duality --- eros and thanatos --- a constructive force and a destructive force. For Freud, all organisms represent a balance of these two forces and the changing weight of one versus the other explains the birth-and-death cycle of all life. Because social life cannot afford the outward violent thrust of thanatos, much of its energy is turned inward and constructively used to adjust behavior through the developing mechanism of repression and sublimation. In the cultivated individual, neither eros nor thanatos emerges except in highly sublimated forms. But in Freud, this "cultivation" does not have to lead to disastrous consequences such as an excess of self-hatred. For Freud, the "discontent" attached to all civilization is the inwardly directed pain and frustration of natural instinctive energies that makes all the good works of civilized life possible. Nietzsche, I think, agrees that civilized life is good --- with all of its mysterious depth and complexity --- but sees the Christian era as far more disastrous to individuals by projecting self-inflicted pain into enormous proportions. Nietzsche and Freud, after all, were dealing with entirely different clienteles --- Nietzsche with German Lutherans in general and Freud with the more limited phenomenon of hysteria. Freud certainly saw religion as a neurosis but he never followed it out to the depth that Nietzsche did.] --http://www4.hmc.edu:8001/Humanities/Beckman/Nietzsche/reading/Genealogy.html

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