death instinct


Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

death instinct

n.
A primitive impulse for destruction, decay, and death, postulated by Sigmund Freud as coexisting with and opposing the life instinct. Also called Thanatos.

death′ in`stinct


n.
1. Psychoanal. an impulse to withdraw or destroy, working in opposition to forces urging survival and creation (life instinct).
2. suicidal tendency or inclination.
[1915–20]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.death instinct - (psychoanalysis) an unconscious urge to die
depth psychology, psychoanalysis, analysis - a set of techniques for exploring underlying motives and a method of treating various mental disorders; based on the theories of Sigmund Freud; "his physician recommended psychoanalysis"
impulse, urge - an instinctive motive; "profound religious impulses"
References in periodicals archive ?
Beyond the president's significant advantages, the Democratic Party seems to have a death instinct.
"Civilization is thus threatened by an instinctual de-fusion, in which the death instinct strives to gain ascendancy over the life instincts," Marcuse sums up Freud.
Such empirical observations led Freud to formulate the theory of the self-destructive impulse which he called "death instinct," implying that from the beginning there has been, in all of us, self-destructive impulses which materialize in suicide only in exceptional cases, when many circumstances and factors combine to make it possible.
The second theory is Freudian Psychoanalytic theory which concludes every human being is born with two types of instincts: Eros- the life instinct and Thanatos- the death instinct. Schatz's behaviour was simply instinctual mainly governed by Thanatos.
Evidence of the death instinct and its Nirvana principle abound: people's desire for peace, alcohol and narcotics; escape from stimulation; escapism through reading and watching movies; the craving for rest and sleep; suicide and suicidal tendencies.
1 The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (Bloomsbury, pounds 7.99) 2 The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (Vintage, pounds 8.99) 3 Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (Transworld, pounds 7.99) 4 Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (Atlantic Books, pounds 7.99) 5 A Game Of Thrones by George R R Martin (Harpercollins, pounds 8.99) 6 The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo (Vintage, pounds 6.99) 7 The Death Instinct by Jed Rubenfeld (Headline, pounds 7.99) 8 Jump!
Following Lee Edelman's revisionist theory of Freud's death instinct in No Future (in which book, Edelman coins the term sinthomosexuality, meaning the repetitive compulsiveness of the death instinct that 'continually deflects itself into a compulsive Otherness'), Bruhm argues that Jackson's Gothic: 'produces a gleefully embodied death drive, a physical, dancing force that guts the pious, future-oriented homo-violent culture that, as Edelman points out, deploys the signifier "child" to suspend or invalidate the rights of any other group'.
Because the death instinct is predicated on an erotic impulse to create matrixes through which one might modify--or sublimate--the instinctual threat perceived, where one can, while excluding the physical consequences, transform into pleasure the stimulation afforded from the danger associated with death, it seems all too easy to argue that representation is equal to impulse and that there is always something libidinal buried beneath the portrayal of invasion or subjugation.
Stratham Younger, to find the perpetrators in The Death Instinct (Riverhead, January).
Considerable research attention has focused on Freud's notion of the death instinct, the destructive function of the death drive, the death drive as the basic constituent of the psyche, and the silent existence of the death drive.
It's on this basis that Freud associated romantic love with the death instinct. That is, through love (understood as a sort of metaphysical merging) we seek the "death" of our previous, separate existence.
THE DEATH INSTINCT by Jed Rubenfeld (Headline, pounds 18.99) ON September 16, 1920, following a year of bombings across the United States, a quarter ton of explosives was detonated in a deadly attack on Wall Street, with 38 killed.