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The Freudian concept of "destrudo" is one of a group of concepts that appeared fleetingly in Sigmund Freud's work and subsequently disappeared, although it is not always easy to identify the reasons for their disappearance. In the present case the situation is clearer since from an energy perspective Freud has always refused to postulate a "destrudo," that is, an energy specifically associated with the death drive, even though the term makes its appearance in The Ego and the Id (1923b).

Freud did not want to associate the duality of the drives with a duality of energies, since for him there was no energy dualism, but with a kind of energy monism, that of the libido. He subsequently abandoned use of the term "destrudo," which would have risked implying the existence of an energy dualism.

On several occasions Jean Laplanche has returned to this problem of terminology (1970, 1986). Destrudo does not appear in Jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontalis's The Language of Psychoanalysis.

Bernard Golse

See also: Ego and the Id, The ; Death instinct (Thanatos); Libido; Weiss, Edoardo.


Freud, Sigmund. (1923b). The ego and the id. SE, 19: 12-59.

Laplanche, Jean. (1970). Vie et mort en psychanalyse. Paris: Flammarion.

. (1986). La pulsion de mort dans la théorie de la pulsion sexuelle.La Pulsion de mort (pp. 11-26). Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

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