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Death-DriveFreudian Hauntings in Literature and Art$
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Robert Rowland Smith

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780748640393

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748640393.001.0001

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A Subject is Being Beaten

A Subject is Being Beaten

(p.67) Chapter 3 A Subject is Being Beaten

Robert Rowland Smith

Edinburgh University Press

On the surface, the death-drive cannot be rational: who in their right mind would ever wish for death? Is that really what Freud is talking about? And if so, why does he so rarely mention suicide? This chapter attempts to clear the matter up. After all, it makes for an odd de-link: on the one hand Freud speaks of the death-drive, but on the other hand he is virtually silent on suicide. What is the relationship between them, and where does masochism, which Freud famously is interested in, fit? The chapter looks at the paradoxes of Freud's position, and sets it alongside two other great thinkers of suicide and punishment, Durkheim and Foucault. When it comes down to it, Freud's death-drive stops short of destroying life; it prefers a return to a simple state of inertia that is closer to preservation than annihilation.

Keywords:   Freud, death-drive, suicide, punishment, Durkheim, Foucault

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