Theses Doctoral

The Death Drive Revisited: A Reexamination of Psychoanalytic Drive Theory and its Implications for Critical Theory

Fong, Benjamin Yen Yi

This dissertation is a reexamination of Sigmund Freud's mature drive theory, also known as his theory of the death drive, and its relevance for critical social theory, and in particular that of the so-called "Frankfurt school." By tracing the emergence of Freud's theory in his enigmatic Beyond the Pleasure Principle and then its development in the hands of Hans Loewald and Jacques Lacan, I aim, in the first three chapters, to articulate a drive theory centered around the opposition between what Freud calls the death drive and the drive to mastery, as well as the developmental hazards therein. In the last two chapters, I then attempt to integrate this drive theory into the Frankfurt school's analysis of the intrusion of mass media and state institutions on the developmental process with the aim of both providing historical weight to the dialectic of death and mastery articulated in the first part of the dissertation and also strengthening the psychological component of critical theory.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Taylor, Mark C.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 15, 2013