The drive, or instinct as it is usually translated in English, is a concept that exists on the border between the somatic (bodily) and the mental. It consists of a quantity of energy and its psychical representative. The Freudian drive is "a constant force of a biological nature, emanating from organic sources, that always has as its aim its own satisfaction through the elimination of the state of tension which operates at the source of the drive itself."
Pressure, Aim, Object, Source
According to Freud, there are four characteristics of the drive: its pressure, its aim, it's object and its source. By pressure Freud means the drive's motor factor, that is to say, "the amount of force or measure of the demand for work which it represents."Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag Exerting pressure is a characteristic common to all drives and represents the drive's essence. The aim of the drive is to seek its own satisfaction and it achieves this by removing the source of stimulation. The object of the drive is that which the drive attaches itself to in order to achieve its aim. Freud designates a particularly close attachment between the drive and its object as "fixation". Finally, the source of the drive is "the somatic process which occurs in an organ or part of the body and whose stimulus is represented in mental life by an instinct." The drive, in short, is something that originates within the body and seeks expression in the psyche as representation. Freud is primariluy concerned with the aims of the drive]s and how they seek satisfaction.
Drive and Instinct
It is crucial to acknowledge the distinction between an instinct and a drive. An instinct designates a need that can be satisfied. The examples Freud usually gives are those of hunger and thirst. These needs give rise to an excitation within the body that can be satisfied and neutralized. The drive, on the other hand, cannot be satisfied and is characterized by the constancy of the pressure it exerts on consciousness.
The model of the Freudian drive is libido - sexual energy - or what is also translated as 'wish' or 'desire'. According to Laplanche and Leclaire, it is the introduction of the drive into the sphere of need that marks the distinction between a need and desire: 'the drive introduces into the sphere of need an erotic quality: libido will be substituted for need' (1972 : 140). Libido is the fundamental motive force of human beings; it is unconscious desire which is the organizing principle of all human thought, action and social relations.
Throughout his career Freud maintained a dualistic theory of drives. In the Project for a Scientific Psychology (1954 ) he distinguished between bound and unbound energy. In Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1991d ) Freud distinguished between libido and the ego-instincts, or the drive to self-preservation. Finally, when he came to accept the criticisms of his fellow analysts that the drive to self-preservation was also sexual in nature, he formulated his final great mythopoetic theory of Eros, the pleasure principle, and Thanatos, the death drive, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1984b ).
Drive and Instinct
Drive and Desire
Above all, the drive shares with desire the property of never achieving its aim. The drive always circles around its object but never achieves the satisfaction of reaching it. The purpose of the drive, therefore, is simply to maintain its own repetitive compulsive movement, just as the purpose of desire is to desire.
Differences with Freud
Freud argued that sexuality was composed of a series of partial drives which he defined as the oral, anal and phallic phases. These phases become integrated into a single, whole, genital drive after the resolution of the Oedipus complex. Contrary to Freud, Lacan argues that all drives are partial in the sense that there is never a single integrated harmonious resolution of the drives in the subject. Furthermore, a partial drive does not represent a part of a singular unified drive, but rather the partiality of the drive in the reproduction of sexuality.
Lacan also developed Freud's theory of the drive in another important respect. He thought that it was important to retain Freud's dualism, rather than reducing everything to a single motivating force, but rejected Freud's notion of two distinct drives, Eros and Thanatos. For Lacan every drive is sexual in nature and at the same time every drive is a death drive. There is fundamentally only one drive for Lacan - the death drive - and as we will see this drive will increasingly be associated with the real and jouissance.
From seminar XI onwards Lacan will oppose the drive and jouissance to desire, and that little piece of the real - of jouissance - that the subject has access to will be designated the objet petit a.
Drive and Sexuality
For Freud, the distinctive feature of human sexuality -- as opposed to the sexual life of other animals -- that that it is not regulated by any instinct -- a concept which implies a relatively fixed and innate relationship to an object) but by the drives -- which differ from instincts in that they are extremely vaiable, and develop in ways which are contingent on the life history of the subject. --
At first these component drives function anarchically and independently (the 'polymorphous perversity' of children), but in puberty they become organised and fused together under the primacy of the genital organs.
Drive and Instinct
Instincts are relatively fixed and innate.
Movement of the Drive
Drive and Desire
- 1972 : 140
- 1984c : 118
- 1984c : 119
- Freud, Sigmund. 1905d
- Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.301
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p. 162
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p.204
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p.168
- Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. l18-20).
- Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.848)