CriticaLink | Freud: On Narcissism | Terms


As living creatures, human beings have biological needs (to eat, to reproduce themselves). Instincts are the internal impulses, such as hunger and sexual urges, that lead humans to fulfill these needs. For Freud, these biologically based energies are the fundamental driving forces of psychic life. The primary processes operate in the to represent the objects of these instincts to the id; the ego performs the secondary processes (thinking, planning, imagining) that attempt to steer the energy of the instincts in ways that are appropriate to the actual situation. The impulses from the id are only partially controlled through the operations of psychic life such as repression and sublimation.

Throughout his career Freud worked on his formulation of the instincts, eventually recognizing two: libido, or Eros (after the Greek god of love) that seeks sexual gratification and an instinct that aims at returning the ego to a static, quiescent state--absolute equilibrium--which he calls the "death drive" or Thanatos.