Norman O. Brown’s Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History

Norman O. Brown’s Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History

Alan Gullette
University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Fall 1979
Psychology 4103: Independent Study
Dr. Shrader

In Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (Wesleyan, 1959), Norman Brown carries the work of Freud to its logical conclusions in an attempt to arrive at a general psychoanalytic theory of history and culture. Making certain adjustments and reinterpretations of Freud’s theories, Brown replaces Freud’s pessimistic instinctual dualism with an instinctual dialectic that opens up the possibility of a solution to the problem of human neurosis. He takes us through the theory of repression, the development of Freud’s theories of the instincts, the stages of infantile sexuality, and the important theories of sublimation and fantasy. Finally, Brown offers a “way out” through the reunification of the life and death instincts, a cessation of repression, and the “resurrection of the body” though the reinstatement of the natural Dionysian body-ego.

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