libido. Energy postulated by Freud as underlying the transformations of the sexual instinct with respect to its object (displacement of cathexes), with respect to its aim (e.g. sublimation), and with respect to the source of sexual excitation (diversity of the erotogenic zones).

For Jung, the notion of libido extends to embrace 'psychical energy' in general, present in every 'tendency towards' or appetitus.

The Latin word libido means wish or desire. Freud claims to have borrowed it from Moll (Untersuchungen über die Libido sexualis, Vol. I, 1898), but in point of fact it appears several times in the letters and manuscripts sent to Fliess, and for the first time in Draft E, the probable date of which is June, 1894.

A satisfactory definition of libido is difficult to give. This is not only because the theory of libido evolved hand in hand with the different stages of the instinct theory, but also because the concept of libido itself has never been clearly defined [The most explicit texts on the development of the libido theory are the article 'Libidotheorie' (1923a) and Chapter XXVI of the Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916-17).] Two specific characteristics, however, were invariably posited by Freud:

a. Qualitatively speaking, libido cannot be reduced—as Jung would have us do—to an indeterminate mental energy. If it can be 'desexualised'—particularly in the case of narcissistic cathexes—this is invariably a secondary process involving a renunciation of the specifically sexual aim.

At the same time, Freud's libido never extends to the whole domain of the ~Z

instincts. As first conceived, libido stands opposed to the instincts of self- ~',`

preservation*. When these instincts are seen, in Freud's final account, as ~'

libidinal in nature, the antagonism is merely displaced: libido is now opposed '~'

~to the death instincts. Thus Freud never accepts Jung's monism and persists 4 J

I in upholding the sexual character of libido.

b. The role of libido as a quantitative concept is increasingly emphasised by

Freud: it serves 'as a measure of processes and transformations occurring in

the field of sexual excitation'. Its 'production, increase or diminution, distribu

tion and displacement should afford us possibilities for explaining the psycho

sexual phenomena observed' (1).

Both these aspects are stressed in the following definition: 'Libido is an ex- _

pression taken from the theory of the emotions. We call by that name the

| energy, regarded as a quantitative magnitude (though not at present actually

measurable), of those instincts which have to do with all that may be com

prised under the word "love" ' (2). _

In so far as the sexual instinct lies on the borderline between the somatic _:

and the psychical, libido represents the mental side; it is 'the dynamic manifesta

tion of [the sexual instinct] in mental life' (3). When the concept of libido is


1 1~

~ I.ihido

introduced by Freud in his first writings on anxiety neurosis* (1896), it is

I presented as an energy quite distinct from somatic sexual excitation: an

insufficiency of 'psychical libido' causes the tension to be maintained on the somatic level, where it is transformed, without psychical working over*, into symptoms. When 'there is something lacking in the psychical determinants' (4), the endogenous sexual excitation is not mastered, the tension cannot be utilised by the psyche, there is a split between somatic and psychical, and

I anxiety arises.

In the first edition of the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905d), libido-which stands in the same relation to love as hunger does to the nutritional instinct-is not much different from sexual desire in search of satisfaction, and serves to identify the forms taken by this desire. For at this point only object-libido is involved; we observe it as it focusses on objects-either becoming

fixated there or abandoning them-and as it leaves one object for another. i

Inasmuch as the sexual instinct represents a force exerting a 'pressure'* I ibido is defined by Freud as the energy of this instinct. It is this quantitative aspect which predominates in what, on the basis of the concepts of narcissism and of an ego-libido, is to become the 'libido theory'.

The notion of 'ego-libido' does in fact entail a generalisation of the libidinal economy so as to embrace the whole of the interplay between cathexes and anticathexes, while whatever overtones of subjectivity the term 'libido' may have had hitherto are attenuated; as Freud acknowledges, the libido theory becomes frankly speculative. Perhaps Freud was trying to restore the subjective and qualitative dimension originally intrinsic to the idea of libido-but on the level, now, of a biological myth-when, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g), he brought in the notion of Eros*,as the basic principle of the life instincts, as a tendency for organisms to- maintain the cohesion of living matter and to create new unities.


(1) FREUD, S. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905d), passage added in 1915, G.W., V, 118; S.E., VII, 217.

(2) FREUD, S. Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921c), G.W., XIII, 98; S.E., XVIII, 90.

(3) FREUD, S. 'Two Encyclopaedia Articles' (1923a ll922D. G.W., XIII, 220; S.E., XVIII,

(4) FREUr, S., Anf., 101; S.E.,I, 193. ;

240 1