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Contemporary Perspectives on the Freudian Death Drive: In Theory, Clinical Practice and Culture
Blüml, Victor, Liana Giorgi, and Daru Huppert (Eds)
IPA and Routledge / Karnac Books / Softcover / 2019-03-01 / 0367149346
reg price: $57.95 our price: $ 49.26
182 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

Contemporary Perspectives on the Freudian Death Drive provides a sustained discussion of the death drive from the perspective of different psychoanalytic traditions. Ever since Freud introduced the notion of the death drive, it has been the subject of intense debate in psychoanalysis and beyond.

The death drive is arguably the most unsettling psychoanalytic concept. What this concept points to is more unsettling still. It uniquely illuminates the forces of destruction and dissolution at work in individuals as well as in society. This book first introduces Freud’s use of the term, tracing the debates and developments his ideas have led to. The subsequent essays by leading Viennese psychoanalysts demonstrate the power of the death drive to illuminate psychoanalytic theory, clinical practice, and the study of culture. Since this book originally arose from a conference in Vienna, its final segment is dedicated to the forced exile of the early Viennese psychoanalysts due to the Nazi threat. Due to its wide scope and the many perspectives it offers, this book is a tribute to the disturbing relevance of the death drive today.

Contemporary Perspectives on the Freudian Death Drive is of special interest to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, social and cultural scientists, as well as anyone intending to understand the sources and vicissitudes of human destructiveness.


"Searching, scholarly and thoughtful, this valuable book is essential reading. It is not only for psychoanalysts but for all concerned people. The possibility that an innate principle of self-annihilation is at work in human behaviour and at the level of the species as well as at that of individuals is disturbing. Yet much in our contemporary situation points in its direction. If we do not want to know more, we may destroy ourselves, and many other species besides. But if we understand more, it can be ameliorated."-David Taylor, Hon,. Consultant, Tavistock Clinic; Training & Supervising Psychoanalyst, British Psychoanalytic Society; Visiting Professor, University College London Psychoanalysis Unit, UK

Table of Contents

Introduction: The death drive: A brief genealogy of a controversial concept V. Blüml

Part I: Theory

Chapter 1: The struggle between good and evil: the concept of the death drive from a Kleinian perspective H. Rössler-Schülein

Chapter 2: Laplanche as a reader of "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" F. Früh

Chapter 3: Unexpected Antecedents to the Concept of the Death Drive: A return to the beginnings J. Wolff Bernstein

Part II: Clinical aspects

Chapter 4: Is the death drive mute – or do we pretend to be deaf? S. Zwettler-Otte

Chapter 5: Is the concept of death-drive clinically helpful for psychoanalysts? F. Lackinger

Part III: Culture

Chapter 6: Vicissitudes of the Death Drive in Culture E. Skale

Chapter 7: In the Name of Janus: Do we Need a Dualistic Drive-theory? A. Ruhs

Part IV: History

Chapter 8: The Drive that silences: The Death Drive and the Oral Tradition in Viennese Psychoanalysis D. Huppert

Chapter 9: On the history of psychoanalysis in Vienna with special focus on the forced emigration of psychoanalysts in 1938 T. Aichhorn

Chapter 10: Liselotte Frankl and Hans Herma. Two candidates of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1938 N. Pakesch

Chapter 11: Remembering Dr Otto Brief T. Kunstreich

About the Editors

Victor Blüml is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst (Vienna Psychoanalytic Society/IPA). He is Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy of the Medical University of Vienna, Austria. His main research interests include personality structure, psychotic phenomena, suicidality, and conceptual issues of psychoanalysis. He has published in numerous publications including psychiatric and psychoanalytic journals.

Liana Giorgi is a social and political scientist and psychoanalyst in private practice (Vienna Psychoanalytic Society/IPA). She is the author/editor of Festivals and the Cultural Public Sphere (Routledge 2011), Democracy in the European Union (Routledge 2006), and The Post-Socialist Media: What Power the West? (Avebury 1995). She is currently working on a book on the intellectual exchanges between psychoanalysis, social and political theory.

Daru Huppert is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Austria (Vienna Psychoanalytic Society/IPA); he has published numerous psychoanalytic articles on sleep, sexuality, disgust, and shame.

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