Freud’s”Beyond the Pleasure Principle”

In this article, Freud defines the pleasure principle and elaborates his explanation with different examples. Freud says that although there are unpleasant situations in our lives, we have impulses that make us react to it. An example for this is a one and half year old child whose mother used to leave him for hours. His reaction to this situation was to create a game “Gone” where he throws objects in the corner and get them back. So, the unpleasant situation of her departure is compensated by the pleasant moment of her return. Besides, the repetition of this game, gave the child pleasure and at the same time made him the master of the situation( this shows that children deep inside want to act like adults and control certain situations).

¬†Freud then explains that physicians should be more concerned with patients who react passively towards serious situations because all the repressed feeling within us which lie in our unconscious should come out because if not they’ll have bad effects and can cause mental and psychological problems. Sex is considered among the repressed feelings that can be accumulated from childhood. The first emotional disappointment that a person faces is when he as a child loses the affection tie that connects him to the opposite sex parent when a new child arrives and as a consequence he receives less attention , that’s why s/he feels jealous.

Other term introduced is “compulsion to repeat” which refers to repetition of certain experiences over and over again. Freud says that patient actually forgets his past experiences that are repressed but they can come out unintentionally when he’s with the doctor for example and the patient’s resistance to the repetition of unpleasant experiences is controlled by the ego system:There is no doubt that the resistance of the conscious and unconscious ego operates under the sway of pleasure principle: it seeks to avoid the unpleasure which would be produced by the liberation of the repressed.” On the other hand, these experiences could be revived in the form of dreams even if it’s in an indirect way.

If we try to apply the pleasure principle in literature, for example in Laura Esquivel’s novel “Like Water For Chocolate”, Tita the protagonist who was oppressed by the patriarchal society where she lived and even by her mother, got rid of all these repressed feelings by cooking which for her represents a pleasant experience. Other example in cinema, in a movie like Saw, the Jigsaw who is struggling with cancer chooses his victims who don’t appreciate what they have. So, he brings out all the anger he feels inside by torturing his victims playing a game with them which pleases him.

Actually there’s a part that I couldn’t understand and I hope someone could help out with it: ” The consideration of these cases and situations, which have a yield of pleasure as their final outcome, should be undertaken by some systems of aesthetics with an economic approach to its subject-matter”. I’d like to know what Freud means by economic approach in this context? because this term has been repeated twice in the text.

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6 Responses to Freud’s”Beyond the Pleasure Principle”

  1. Monica P. says:

    First of all, good summary. Secondly, I like how you take what Freud is saying about the pleasure principle and apply it to literature and film. Both examples clearly show how we can take something negative and turn it into something positive (at least for the individual who has the negative situation) and thus take control of the situation.

  2. So I have to agree with your comparison to “Like Water for Chocolate” because I have read this book and it’s true…Tita gets pleasure out of cooking. And it’s not just any kind of pleasure, it’s the sexual pleasure that Freud is referring to as the repressed. So then in a way she represents the child that was created in this text, creating his own “pleasurable” situations to escape his reality in a way.

  3. Jon says:

    By “economic approach” all Freud means really is a rational calculus of benefit and loss. His “economic” model of desire doesn’t have anything to do with money; rather, it treats desire as if it were money (or some other good): as something that has to be earned, spent, invested, and so on.

    (At other times, the comparison is more with water, or a “hydraulic” model; this is the notion that desire can get “dammed up” and build up pressure until it “overflows” and so on.)

  4. R. Baptist says:

    Hello, very interesting your blog! Just one question in your examples you’re talking about pleasure or repetition? or both? And whats the difference? or is a difference?

    • doaa25 says:

      Hey, Rene. Actually with this examples I was referring to the repitition that gives”pleasure” to these characters because not all repeated acts have a pleasant effect as you explained in your blog. I think the difference between repition and pleasure would be the effect they have on people. Freud gave examples of unpleasant acts that gave pleasure to the child for example but at the same time he concluded that not all repeated acts cause please because in this case”compulsion to repeat” goes”beyond pleasure principle” as the title refers to.

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