The Essential Loewald: On Motivation and Instinct Theory p.110

We now seem to see that, on the contrary, psychoanalytic psychology postulates instinctual, unconscious, impersonal forces as the motives of our psychic life. Where is the person? Where is the ego or self that would be the source and mainstay of personal motivation?

The problem is not resolved by hypotheses about a primary autonomy of the ego, primary ego apparatuses, and the like (Hartmann, 1939). They make the psychoanalytic ego into a biological entity with a psychological superstructure and make use of an energy concept which is biological or physical. The energy postulated in such hypotheses, while called psychic energy, is nonpsychic, i.e., nonmotivational, and instinctual motivation becomes secondary where it counts most: in the understanding of the structuring of the personality by the organization and transformation of the instincts. Inborn apparatuses are nothing but a euphemism for neurophysiological and neuroanatomical substrates, they have no psychological status. Instinct (Trieb) does have psychological meaning and the term has its legitimate use in psychoanalysis only as a psychological concept, and not as a biological or ethological one. Nobody of course denies neurophysiological processes and neurological structures, or the maturation of such structures. But to speak of inborn ego apparatuses is speaking of a Hamlet who is not the Prince of Denmark. In psychoanalytic psychology the ego is a psychic structure that cannot be found anywhere in biology or neurology, just as an organism cannot be found anywhere in physics, or a superego in sociology. It makes sense to speak of the development of the id and the ego out of an undifferentiated phase, in which there is as yet no differentiation of id, ego, and environment, as long as the concept of the undifferentiated phase is not biologized and it is recognized that as psychoanalysts we cannot go back beyond that limit.

 

Hans Loewald – The Essential Loewald: On Motivation and Instinct Theory p.110

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