Saturday, April 19, 2008

Conflict as Central to Freud and Psychoanalysis 1



I have always been fascinated by the word "conflict" and the corresponding adjective which is doing the round these days, namely "conflicted."  One does not need to be too observant to see that the very nature of life in general seems to be that of conflict.  The WIKI defines conflict succinctly to my mind thus:

Conflict is a state of discord caused by the actual or perceived opposition of needs, values and interests. A conflict can be internal (within oneself) or external (between two or more individuals). Conflict as a concept can help explain many aspects of social life and social death such as social disagreement, conflicts of interests, and fight between individuals, groups, or organizations. In political terms, "conflict" can refer to wars, revolutions or other struggles, which may involve the use of force as in the term armed conflict. Without proper social arrangement or resolution, conflicts in social settings can result in stress or tensions among stakeholders.  (See this link Conflict )

Indeed, I think we can go further that the WIKI here by stating that conflict is evident not alone in organic nature itself but in inorganic life also.  It would seem to be patently obvious that even the way atoms and subatomic particles interact and react is essentially by way of conflict in the general sense of hitting off one another, of the stronger and more powerful particle winning out as it were.

As soon as a child is born he or she is aware of the presence of conflict in the world.  Sometimes (hopefully most times) it will have its needs met by the mother (possibly even the father) and at other times (hopefully not too frequently) it will not have its needs met.  When needs are not met the child becomes aware that things are not always good in life.  Bad things do happen - it will go hungry or frightened for some further time on its own. Then we all quickly notice the external conflicts in our family life as we grow older.  We hit off each other in not so good ways many times throughout the course of our living together.

However, in this post I wish to refer to internal conflict or what more pedantically or precisely can be called intrapersonal conflict - that is, conflict deep inside the person.  Now I return to talking about Freud and his understanding of the conflict within our very own psyche.  I wish here to return to the excellent book by Mitchell and Black and their exposition  of the nature and role of conflict to Freud's understanding of the psyche.  The following passage I believe gives us a deep understanding and grasp of the way Freud's thought was developing.  We can easily see how he went from the topographical model of mind (archaeological or layer model) to a more structural one in an attempt to get to grips with what he daily perceived to be the conflicts that existed not alone within the minds of his own patients but within himself also:

From his earliest differences with Breuer on the cause of repressed memories, Freud regarded conflict as the central clinical problem underlying all psychopathology.  His favorite metaphors for the mind (and the analytic process) were military.  One part of the mind was at war with another part of the mind, and the symptoms were a direct, although masked, consequence of this hidden, underlying struggle.  Freud's theoretical models of the psyche were all efforts to portray the patient's conflict, which was at the heart of analytic treatment.

By the early 1920s, the topographical model...was proving insufficient as a map of conflict.  Growing clinical experience and conceptual sophistication led Freud to theorize that the unconscious wishes and impulses are in conflict with the defences, not with the conscious and preconscious, and that the defences cannot possibly really be conscious or accessible to consciousness.  If I know I am keeping myself from knowing something, I must also know what it is that I am keeping myself from knowing.  Freud's patients not only did not know their own secrets, but they did not know that they had secrets.  Not just the impulses and wishes were unconscious, but the defenses seemed to be unconscious as well. (Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought, Basic Books, 1995, 20)

In the next post I will speak a little more about conflict and move on to describe the Freudian structural approach to the nature of the psyche.


Yet another picture of one of the famous Burghers of Calais by Rodin which I took last year in Paris.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Depth Psychology



The words "deep", "depth" , "profound" and "profundity" have always appealed to me.  I remember an old friend of mine describing me as "intense."  I accepted that description then as being accurate - some 25 years ago - and I reckon it still is.  Being a sufferer from endogenous depression or unipolar depression, I suppose the attraction to these particular words are understandable.  Depression, after all does bring one down into the "depths."  One does experience a sense of going down into the dark depths of the psyche; or more accurately still into the dark depths of depression or what the wonderful scholar Lewis Wolpert aptly describes as the territory of "malignant sadness."  For anyone interested in the biochemical side of depression he has written a book by this apt name: Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression (Faber & Faber, 1999).  I remember once been asked to give a talk on depression and I used the following simile or image to describe my experience of a bad bout - I stated that going through a period of depression could be like diving into a very deep pool and somehow not being able to surface for a long time.  Eventually, still sustaining the image, you reach the bottom of the pool ("rock bottom" as it were).  Thankfully, when I had reached rock bottom I somehow realised that the only way for me now was "up from the depths" as it were.  It was like kicking one's feet off the bottom of the pool and thrusting one's legs in the right direction, up, up, up, up until my head and broken the surface and I could breath the fresh air of reality into my lungs.

Hence, the term "Depth Psychology" has always appealed to me.  This is a generic term used to cover any psychological system that assumes that "explanations of behaviour are to be found at the level of the unconscious.  Freudian and Jungian theories are the classic examples and many authors will use the term as a rough synonym for psychoanalysis."  Reber, The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology (Penguin Books, 1985, 190)  Likewise we may point out here that psychoanalysis is often called "depth analysis" since the assumption is that the analysis is probing deeply below the "well-defended of mind to the underlying dynamic factors that presumably motivate the person." (Ibid., 190)

I have already adverted to the fact that Freud used several images or metaphors to describe his exploration of the mind or psyche.  He took his topographical model of the mind from the world of archaeology which is a science devoted to uncovering the hidden layers of ancient history.  Psychoanalysis, Freud would argue is a similar science insofar as it is engaged in the slow painstaking uncovering of the hidden layers of our very own personality or identity or mind.  Here I should like to quote the opening words of the first chapter of a wonderful book - Freud and Beyond: A History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought (Mitchell & Black, Basic Books, 1995, p. 1):

In 1873, when Freud was seventeen, the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann put together clues from fragmentary historical and literary sources and located the ancient city of Troy on the coastal plain of what is now Turkey.  Perhaps no other event so fired the imagination of Freud, who tended to draw his inspiration from ancient heroes such as Moses and Hannibal.  Later Freud's consulting room came to resemble the office of an archaeologist, filled with primitive sculptures and relics.  The site of Freud's dig was not the earth but the minds of his patients; the tools that he used were not the shovel and brushes but psychoanalytic interpretations.  The exhilaration was the same, however.  Freud felt he had discovered an important site and had fashioned the necessary technology for exposing the underlying structure of the human mind and for unearthing the archaic history of both the individual patient and all humankind.


Another one of Rodin's Burghers of Calais which I photographed last year in Paris.

Anxiety and More Anxiety - That's Modern Life



When I was at college in the late 1970s one of the fine books we read was The Courage To Be (1952) by the German philosopher-theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965).  This is an impressively profound and scholarly work - a truly Christian existentialist work.  I wish to advert to Tillich before treating of Freud in connection with anxiety here because of the impact this book had on me.  Writing as early as 1952 we find Tillich stating that it is a truism to call our time an "age of anxiety." He went on to point out that this fact holds equally for America and Europe.   As I remember reading and learning for our exams, this scholar contended that essentially there were three types of anxiety viz., (i) the Anxiety of Death - the fear that we may be extinguished at any moment, (ii) the Anxiety of Meaninglessness - the loss of direction, focus or meaning in our lives and (iii)  the Anxiety of Condemnation - let's call it Moral Anxiety 

Tillich went on to point out that these three types of Anxiety were clearly to be seen in human history, viz., (i) at the end of ancient civilization we see clearly that an Ontic Anxiety or an Anxiety of Death or an Anxiety of Extinction is predominant (ii) at the end of the Middle Ages we see a Moral Anxiety or an Anxiety of Condemnation, and at the end of the modern period a Spiritual Anxiety or Anxiety of Meaninglessness reigns supreme. But in spite of the predominance of one type the others are also present and effective at any given time.  In the words I remember from my reading "Nonbeing threatens Being."  In other words modern humankind stands under an existential threat or spiritual threat of nonbeing.  This is as I remember the tenor of Tillich's teaching.  I remember enjoying reading this profound and slim book from his pen!  Now let's turn to our man Freud once again.

Freud on Anxiety:

I have read often over the course of my life the saying that "life is not easy."  Freud even said this, but we won't call him particularly perspicacious for this remark common as it is and always was.  I also like the comment of the theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking that "life is all a question of luck!"  I love Hawking's stoicism and his philosophy of getting on with life, of playing the hand of cards you have got because that is all any of us can do.  These are two sensible human beings!  Let's be sensible then and cease our bemoaning our state of being!  As a mere human being I am threatened on all sides - the demands of my own biology or animal nature - all those drives and instincts to which I am subjected as well as the fact that I age, am subject to disease and illness and that finally I'll die (in short this makes up what Freud calls the Id or It of being.)  Then, of course, all those laws and rules and precepts Society has forced on top of me which have all gone to form my conscience or Superego.  My Consciousness or Ego or sense of Self or I tries valiantly, and often fails, to mediate successfully between this conflicting forces.  In short, Freud spoke about three types of Anxiety, viz.,

(i) Realistic Anxiety:  This may be rendered simply as Fear. When I enter a strange house and an angry dog bounds out before me, well Freud would put it technically and not so simply: "Tim is experiencing Realistic Anxiety." (This, I feel, corresponds nicely to Tillich's Ontic Anxiety or Anxiety of Death.)

(ii) Moral Anxiety: This is when our Conscience or Inner World or Superego is in conflict with our basic instincts or our IdTillich calls his particular type of anxiety by the same name. (I'm sure he had read Freud, though he does not advert directly to our founding father)

(iii) Neurotic Anxiety: This is the sheer fear of being engulfed and overcome by our basic instincts and impulses.  We feel that we are about to be not alone floundering in the sea but rather engulfed and in danger of being drowned by the fearful forces of our Id.  We have a fear that we are about to go mad, to lose our minds, or simply as we often say we fear that we are going "to lose it!"  This probably would correspond to Tillich's third type of anxiety to some extent.  However I do not wish to point out a one-to-one correspondence here, merely that Tillich was in my mind as I had read his book, The Courage To Be many years ago and that it had remained in my mind as I began to grapple with this part of Freud's thought.  There are, you will agree, striking correspondences.  Undoubtedly our Tillich had read his Freud and had borrowed a lot.  Who can blame him?


Above I have uploaded a picture I took of one of Rodin's famous Burghers of Calais

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Those Deep Dark Secrets 2



In Chapter 20 of Oscar Wilde's wonderful novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, we read the thoughts of Dorian who had been granted the wish that he would remain ever youthful and handsome while the magical and mysterious portrait likeness painted of him should age terribly and gruesomely as he would wreak havoc on his world through many ghastly crimes, not the least of which was murder.  This man is going through mental turmoil because of this deep dark inner secret which is eating him away like a cancer.  In the first piece I quote below he realises that every crime should be punished, because in such punishment he would somehow get relief for and release from the misery of having to live with his dreadful secret.  In the second paragraph quoted immediately under this Dorian realises a deep inner need to confess his sins, also in such a way that he might experience release from his inner turmoil and torment.  Yet, he did not wish to hand himself up to the authorities.  He laughs at the very idea.  Then he begins to rationalise - sure no one would believe him anyway.  In fact they would all think that he had gone mad.  He is simply torn between giving himself up and admitting his crime on the one hand and living on with the turmoil and torment. Dorian is certainly no earnest or sincere penitent.  He still wishes to escape public shame.  Yet he is still deeply troubled as my bolded lines below express.

Ah! in what a monstrous moment of pride and passion he had prayed that the portrait should bear the burden of his days, and he keep the unsullied splendour of eternal youth! All his failure had been due to that. Better for him that each sin of his life had brought its sure swift penalty along with it. There was purification in punishment. Not "Forgive us our sins" but "Smite us for our iniquities" should be the prayer of man to a most just God...

There was blood on the painted feet, as though the thing had dripped--blood even on the hand that had not held the knife. Confess? Did it mean that he was to confess? To give himself up and be put to death? He laughed. He felt that the idea was monstrous. Besides, even if he did confess, who would believe him? There was no trace of the murdered man anywhere. Everything belonging to him had been destroyed. He himself had burned what had been below-stairs. The world would simply say that he was mad. They would shut him up if he persisted in his story. . . . Yet it was his duty to confess, to suffer public shame, and to make public atonement. There was a God who called upon men to tell their sins to earth as well as to heaven. Nothing that he could do would cleanse him till he had told his own sin. His sin? He shrugged his shoulders.

(I have taken these quotations from the on-line version of Wilde's wonderfully profound tale obtainable at this link here - Dorian )

Towards the end of this final chapter the thought occurs to him to use the very murder weapon to destroy his terrifyingly hideous and ugly portrait.  Wilde's precise and eloquent words are worth quoting once again:

He looked round and saw the knife that had stabbed Basil Hallward. He had cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left upon it. It was bright, and glistened. As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter's work, and all that that meant. It would kill the past, and when that was dead, he would be free. It would kill this monstrous soul-life, and without its hideous warnings, he would be at peace. He seized the thing, and stabbed the picture with it.

There was a cry heard, and a crash. The cry was so horrible in its agony that the frightened servants woke and crept out of their rooms. Two gentlemen, who were passing in the square below, stopped and looked up at the great house. They walked on till they met a policeman and brought him back. The man rang the bell several times, but there was no answer. Except for a light in one of the top windows, the house was all dark. After a time, he went away and stood in an adjoining portico and watched.

(Opus citatum at the link given above)

As I was writing yesterday's post I remembered Dorian's conflict over his terrible secret from studying this book at college in the late seventies of the last century with my former lecturer John Devitt, R.I.P.  I quote it because there are ghastly secrets which do eat away at our inner life as it were.  Such secrets do need to be expressed or even confessed and put to bed as it were in the clear light of day.  There are many soul-destroying secrets which many people carry about with them like child-abuse, various stigmas about having all the various mental illnesses from depression to schizophrenia to personality disorders.  The stigmas about mental illness are dying somewhat today, but I deliberately say somewhat because I know a several people, indeed several families who persist in denying that certain mental illnesses wrack the very structure of their families.  Yet they persist in covering up or ignoring the problem because of some hideous family lie which they tell each other in subtle and not so subtle ways.  What they consider their deep dark secret simply should not be told.  The tragedy here is that with help and counselling they would realise that many others suffer from these personally and socially debilitating illnesses; that there are many therapies which complement effective medication to keep the various mental illnesses in check; that once the perceived deep dark secret is given attention and recognition under the light of revelation this secret seems to melt away, its power released, to wither and die.

Admittedly, we all need to preserve some few secrets in our souls - otherwise we should be like T.S. Eliot's worm of a man called J. Alfred Prufrock:

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

(Again T.S. Eliot's famous poem may be read here: Prufrock )

So we cannot with ease or nonchalance or flippancy spill the sacred nard of our very souls at the feet of any old person we meet.  To do so would be tantamount to subverting rather than enhancing and promoting the very growth of out inner being.  We must learn to discern those secrets which must be told from those which we can safely keep so that we can walk with our heads held high among our fellows. 



Above I have posted a picture of a very young Freud with his mother!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Those Deep Dark Secrets 1



I am a lover of HBO's now famous, if not infamous, TV series The Sopranos - one might even say that I am an addict of the series, truth to tell.  My brother Pat and I have bought all six or seven seasons of this series.  In episode 71 news breaks about Vito Spatafore's secret life. At an AA meeting, an acquaintance from Yonkers spots Christopher and tells him someone saw Vito at a gay bar. When Christopher announces this to Tony and the others, no one can believe it. Tony and Silvio try to track Vito down to get to the bottom of it. "Enough with the rush to judgment," warns Tony.

Anyway, Vito Spatafore, a mob captain in Tony Soprano's crew, takes a gun to a remote motel, giving the impression he might kill himself. The reason for this impression is that Vito, long known to regular viewers as a closet homosexual, has been spotted at a gay club in full Village People regalia. Vito flees to New Hampshire, visibly shaken, while his colleagues decide whether he can live on the lam or has to die. (Allowing him to return unscathed would be an affront to their machismo; plus Vito's construction staff will no longer work for him.) In New Hampshire's more accepting environs — where, as Vito sees, a gay couple is only teased for ordering the same breakfast — he begins to believe in a world where he, and his secret, can coexist in full disclosure.  If you have not seen this series and are not acquainted with its characters it is also important to point out that this Vito Spatafore is married with two children.  Vito, then, lives with a very dark secret indeed and is living a double life.  He is plagued with guilt and fear and neuroses.

Indeed one of the reasons for my love of this series is the fact that it deals with many psychological and psychiatric complaints in a very mature and precise manner.  In fact many programmes are quite frankly based on Freudian psychoanalytical concepts.  Indeed the main character, Tony Soprano is himself in analysis with Dr Melfi.  At Melfi's office, Tony vents about Vito being gay-and the pressure of his top earner losing everyone's respect. Melfi points out that many in his circle have done jail time and can't be strangers to "male-male contact." Later in this particular programme Angie and Carmela gossip about Vito, Meadow walks in and spills her own secret about Vito: "Finn saw him giving a guy a blow job." Tony drags Finn into the Pork Store back room to tell what he saw. Paulie, who'd been defending Vito against the "slander," now wants his head. Tony still wants to think about it.

The power of openness is a theory that has, in the past two decades, earned laboratory validity in attempting to explain the effect keeping or not keeping secrets has on us. "Freud's Fundamental Rule of Psychoanalysis was for patients to be completely open with a therapist no matter how silly or embarrassing the thought," says Anita Kelly, a researcher at the University of Notre Dame who published one of the first books on the formal study of secrets, The Psychology of Secrets,(Springer, 2002).  Kelly has focused her recent work on the role of confidants in the process of disclosure. She created a simple diagram advising self-concealers when they should, and when they should not, reveal a secret. On one hand, if the secret does not cause mental or physical stress, it should be kept, to provide a sense of personal boundary and avoid unnecessary social conflict. If it does cause anguish, the secret-keeper must then evaluate whether he or she has a worthy confidant, someone willing to work toward a cathartic insight. When such a confidant is not available, the person should write down his or her thoughts and feelings.  This, I feel, is good and sound advice.

Eric Jaffe, a writer in Washington, D.C., has this to say in an a research article called, "The Science Behind Secrets" :

But in 1998 she [Kelly] did a study asking patients about their relationships with their therapists. She found that 40 percent of them were keeping a secret, but generally felt no stress as a result. Kelly began to believe that some secrets can be kept successfully, and that, in some scenarios, disclosing a secret could cause more problems than it solves. Psychologists, she felt, were not paying enough attention to the situations in which disclosure should occur — only that it did. "The essence of the problem with revealing personal information is that revealers may come to see themselves in undesirable ways if others know their stigmatizing secrets," she wrote in the 1999 paper.

John Caughlin, a professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has studied secrets, agrees that sometimes openness is not the best policy. "People are so accustomed to saying an open relationship is a good one, that if they have secrets it can make them feel that something's wrong," he said recently. In 2005, Caughlin published a paper in Personal Relationships suggesting that people have a poor ability to forecast how they will feel after revealing a secret, and how another person will respond to hearing it. "I'm not touting that people should keep a lot of secrets," he said, "but I don't think people should assume it's bad, and I think they do." In her new book, Anatomy of a Secret Life, published in April, Gail Saltz, a professor of psychiatry at Cornell Medical School, referred to secrets as "benign" or "malignant," depending on the scenario. "In teenagers, having secret identities is normal, healthy separation from parents and needs to go on," said Saltz recently.



Keeping secrets, then, in certain cases is healthy while in others it can cause neuroses of many kinds and not a little pain. Knowing which secrets to share is a work of discernment much to recommended for our healthy growth to the fullest experience of personhood. This is a topic which I will continue into my next post.

Above, I have uploaded a picture of Freud's famous couch.

The Curse of Repetition and The Death Instinct



One obvious fact of my experience of life is that many of us seem to be addicted to repeating our mistakes.  Indeed we keep repeating painful experiences again and again.  Why do we never learn?  Masochism is an obvious example.  I hardly need to define it, but for the sake of clarity and completion I will do so.  It is 1 : a sexual perversion characterized by pleasure in being subjected to pain or humiliation especially by a love object.  2 : pleasure in being abused or dominated : a taste for suffering.  In short Masochism, in this sense, is a psychiatric disorder characterized by feelings of sexual pleasure or gratification when having suffering or pain inflicted upon the self.  Freud at first saw this as a "secondary process" - a turning inwards of an outwardly directed aggression.  Then he went on to wonder whether there might not be a "primary masochism" as a product of the Death Instinct which I discussed in my last post.  Freud, as we can readily see, has now changed his mind and can clearly see that Masochism is in fact a primary processSadism, which is defined as a psychiatric disorder characterized by feelings of sexual pleasure or gratification when inflicting suffering on others, is, according to Freud, secondary.  It is in fact an attempt to deflect outwards the aggression which threatens the self.

Psychoanalytic practice also convinced Freud that patients compulsively repeat emotionally painful situations.  Freud called this "the repetition compulsion."  Just the other day I was talking about this phenomenon with a friend of mine.  She related a story to me about a friend of hers who constantly falls in love with older men who are eventually unobtainable.  Firstly she spent almost two years in a sexual relationship with a priest who was some years older than her, but who had absolutely no desire to leave the priesthood for her.  When that relationship finished she embarked upon a relationship with an older married man who has a family.  We do not need to be brain surgeons to realise that this woman is repeating destructive relationships.  Why do we do that at all?  Dr Michael Kahn also enumerates good examples of this repetition compulsion.  He refers to one of his students, called Marsha as a pseudonym, who only fell in love with men like her father (who was charismatic and powerful but was always too busy to give her undivided attention) but whenever she found such a man she soon lost interest as soon as he became devoted to her.  He mentions another client, let's call him Kevin, who found himself attracted to a succession of women all of whom had a large number of previous lovers.  Kevin kept becoming jealous of all these predecessors.  Or again take a case of someone I know, let's call him John, who, as soon as someone becomes very close to him, will reject and push away the person drawing closer to him.  Once again I have often found myself being drawn to fall in love with women who are eventually revealed to have deep emotional, if not psychological problems.  From doing some counselling plus other personal work on my own repetition compulsion I have found that I somehow link in to their wounded-ness (if I may compose a neologism) or anxiety or depression and seek somehow to attempt to heal or at least to assuage that wounded-ness in them.  Now that I am aware of this and have made this unconscious motivation conscious I find I am so much less likely to fall in love in the same way!  

Repeating the same unhappy situation over and over again is a major cause of human misery and is one of the first things a therapist looks for when setting out to understand a client.   Dr Michael Kahn gives us this insight which I feel is good:

At first glance it looks as though the person were trying over and over to create a happy ending for that earlier situation.  Should a replay turn out happily, the experience seems spoiled, and it's back to the drawing board to re-create the old unhappy situation once again.  It's as though the very painfulness of the original situation was fixating, driving one repeatedly to behave as though he or she were unconsciously trying to understand what had happened.  The situation with the happy ending would cease to be the original situation, which is defined by conflict, frustration, and guilt, and thus would lose its attraction. (Michael Kahn, Basic Freud, Basic Books, 2002, p. 97)

Freud observed children throwing objects away again and again and saying "Gone!"  He firstly thought that the object of this game might be the retrieval of the object.  But on further observation he noted that children often did not always retrieve these objects and proceeded to throw other objects away.  Freud felt certain that throwing the object away represented the departure of the mother and the retrieval the wish for the return of the mother.  So why did the child not retrieve the objects all the time then?  Why did he/she seemingly wish to be in the painful position of being without the toy or without the mother?

Another thing our man Freud noted was the fact that the patient or client attempted to manipulate the therapist into acting the role of their own parents - that is, an attempt to recreate their parental relationship.  Why did people wish to keep repeating this pain or what Freud rather interestingly and insightfully called "unpleasure," a marvellously Freudian neologism?

After much thought and reflection and indeed much work with further patients Freud wrote a book called Beyond The Pleasure Principle.  In it he stated that he had come to believe that "the pleasure principle" was not, in the final analysis (if you forgive the pun) the most powerful force.  In fact, he said, there was a more primal one still, a "regressive instinct" as he called it - a basic instinct for destruction.  This basic instinct for destruction Freud would call The death Instinct.  I will return to Dr Kahn for clarity here:

He now thought that there were two major forces operating in us, forces continually in mortal combat.  The first such force consisted of the instincts of Eros, the life energy, which move toward bringing things together and moving life forward.  The second major force consisted of the instincts of destruction, which move backward toward recovering the original state of the component parts of the universe.  He thought that destruction included a "death instinct" continually struggling against Eros.  The repetition compulsion, he thought , is a manifestation of these regressive instincts, part of the death instinct always struggling against Eros to move us back to an earlier state. (Op. cit., 102)

I have bolded the final sentence above from Kahn by way of emphasising the basic point of this short post!