1st Edition

Psychoanalytic Reflections on The Freudian Death Drive In Theory, the Clinic, and Art

By Rossella Valdrè Copyright 2019
    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    Psychoanalytic Reflections on The Freudian Death Drive is a highly accessible book that investigates the relevance, complexity and originality of a hugely controversial Freudian concept which, the author argues, continues to exert enormous influence on modernity and plays an often-imperceptible role in the violence and so-called "sad passions" of contemporary society.

    With examples from cinema, literature and the consulting room, the book’s four chapters – theory, the clinic, art and contemporaneity – investigate every angle, usually little explored, of the death drive: its "positive" functions, such as its contribution to subjectification; its ambiguous relationship with sublimation; the clues it provides about transgenerational matters; and its effects on the feminine. This is not a book about aggression, a type of extroflection of the death drive made visible, studied and striking; rather, it is about the derivatives of the pulsion that changes in the clinic, in life, in society, in artistic forms. With bold and innovative concepts and by making connections to film and books, Rossella Valdrè unequivocally argues that the contemporary clinic is a clinic of the death drive.

    Psychoanalytic Reflections on The Freudian Death Drive seeks to relaunch the debate on a controversial and neglected concept and will appeal to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists. Today’s renewed interest in the Freudian death drive attests to its extraordinary ability to explain both "new" pathologies and socio-economic phenomena.

    Foreword by Laura Ambrosiano

    Introduction: The silent drive: death inside life

    Chapter 1: In theory

    Chapter 2: In the clinic

    Chapter 3: In art

    Chapter 4: Contemporaneity: is it really the age of sad passions?



    Rossella Valdrè is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst of the Italian Psychoanalytical Society and International Psychoanalytical Association. Her interests include Freudian metapsychology, as well as cinema and psychoanalysis and their extension to the world of culture and society.

    "Without reducing literary texts to mere clinical cases, Dr. Rossella Valdré draws on their unique connection to life to investigate the elusive and problematic concept of the death drive. The various literary references interspersed in her book – from Mann to Ibsen and Szymborska – are handled with philological tact. Valdré’s extensive discussion of Pasolini and of a number of influential 20th Century American writers (Fitzgerald and Yates, among many others) offers an original exploration of the age-long relationship between creativity and self-destruction and, ultimately, is a forceful reminder of the power of art."-Giovanni Bassi, doctoral candidate in Literature, Art and History in Medieval and Modern Europe, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (SSN), Italy

    "Although the death drive as conceptualized by Freud can hardly be accepted today because it was founded on a form of biologism untenable in light of neuroscience, it has crucial heuristic value for assessing clinical and social phenomena. With great depth and by citing literature and art, Rossella Valdrè shows that the death drive is identified with psychical disinvestment. The effects of this destructive drive are most visible in social phenomena. Terrorism represents the clearest example of this aspect of the human mind. Thus, we are witnessing a regression to the social functioning Freud describes when discussing the Primitive Horde."-Francesco Conrotto, training psychoanalyst, Italian Psychoanalytic Association