Freud Background and Terms - thanatos and eros

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Eros and Thanatos Research Papers on Sigmund Freud's Theory of Life and Death thanatos and eros


In his early psychoanalytic theory, Freud proposed that Eros was opposed by forces of the ego (the organized, realistic part of a person's psyche which mediates between desires). In this later views, he maintained that life instincts were opposed by the self-destructive death instincts, known as Thanatos.

Thanatos was thus regarded as merciless and indiscriminate, hated by – and hateful towards — mortals and gods alike. But in myths which feature him, Thanatos could occasionally be outwitted, a feat that the sly King Sisyphus of Korinth twice accomplished. When it came time for Sisyphus to die, Zeus ordered Thanatos to chain Sisyphus up in Parents: Nyx, Erebus.

“T he concurrent or mutually opposing action” of the two fundamental drives (Urtriebe), Eros and Thanatos, are supposed to explain “the phenomena of life” (Civilisation and its Discontents, p. ).This puts them under a lot of pressure. With Eros as the God of love and Thanatos as the God of death, synonymous with the so-called death drive, we might even feel a hint of romanticism.

Ideal demands are antagonistic to sexuality (Eros) and aggression (Thanatos). Eros and Thanatos—Freud identifies two drives that both coincide and conflict within the individual and among individuals. Eros is the drive of life, love, creativity, and sexuality, .