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Freud's concepts have become a part of our psychological vocabulary: unconscious thoughts and feelings, conflict, the meaning of dreams, the sensuality of childhood. But psychoanalytic thinking has undergone an enormous expansion and transformation over the past fifty years. With Freud and Beyond, Stephen A. Mitchell and Margaret J. Black make contemporary psychoanalytic thinking—the body of work that has been done since Freud—available for the first time. Richly illustrated with case examples, this lively, jargon-free introduction makes modern psychoanalytic thought accessible at last.
Controversial 1920 publication expands Freud's theoretical approach to include the death drive. The philosopher's concept of the ongoing struggle between harmony (Eros) and destruction (Thanatos) influenced his subsequent work.
Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle constitutes a major landmark and a real turning point in the evolution of psychoanalytic theory. Pushing aside the primacy of the tension-discharge-gratification model of mental dynamics, this work introduced the notion of a "daemonic force" within all human beings that slowly but insistently seeks psychic inactivity, inertia, and death. Politely dismissed by some as a pseudo-biological speculation and rapturously espoused by others as a bold conceptual advance, "death instinct" became a stepping stone to the latter conceptualizations of mind's attacks on itself, negative narcissism, addiction to near-death, and the utter destruction of meaning in some clinical situations. The concept also served as a bridge between the quintessentially Western psychoanalysis and the Eastern perspectives on life and death. These diverse and rich connotations of the proposal are elucidated in On Freud's "Beyond the Pleasure Principle". Other consequences of Freud's 1920 paper - namely, the marginalization of ego instincts and the "upgrading" of aggression in the scheme of things - are also addressed.
The psychoanalytic approach to religion has changed radically during the course of the twentieth century. In both clinical and theoretical work in psychoanalysis, developments have taken place that frequently are not noted by persons who assume that all that can be said has been said by Freud. The study of religious phenomena, persons, events and traditions has always been a substantial part of applied psychoanalysis and here also major developments have taken place. It is no exaggeration to state that the scientific study of religion has been revolutionized by the integration of psychological perspectives, including the field of psychoanalysis. This volume differs from other recent publications on the topic of psychoanalysis and religion in drawing upon the entire field of psychoanalytic involvement with religion. It is interdisciplinary in approach and unlike other books on the topic brings together an exceptional combination of theoretical, empirical and clinical studies. No other book provides integrated examples of all three types of work.
"Encyclopedically learned, up-to-date, authoritative, and altogether the best introduction to the subject that exists in any language."--Thomas Laqueur, author of Making Sex

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