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- Sep 2013
4510 The assumption of the existence of an instinct of death or destruction has met with resistance even inanalytic circles; I am aware that there is a frequent inclination rather to ascribe whatever is dangerous andhostile in love to an original bipolarity in its own nature. To begin with it was only tentatively that I putforward the views I have developed here, but in the course of time they have gained such a hold upon methat I can no longer think in any other way. To my mind, they are far more serviceable from a theoreticalstandpoint than any other possible ones; they provide that simplification, without either ignoring or doingviolence to the facts, for which we strive in scientific work. I know that in sadism and masochism we havealways seen before us manifestations of the destructive instinct (directed outwards and inwards), stronglyalloyed with erotism; but I can no longer understand how we can have overlooked the ubiquity of non-eroticaggressivity and destructiveness and can have failed to give it its due place in our interpretation of life. (Thedesire for destruction when it is directed inwards mostly eludes our perception, of course, unless it is tingedwith erotism.) I remember my own defensive attitude when the idea of an instinct of destruction firstemerged in psycho-analytic literature, and how long it took before I became receptive to it. That othersshould have shown, and still show, the same attitude of rejection surprises me less. For ‘little children donot like it’ when there is talk of the inborn human inclination to ‘badness’, to aggressiveness anddestructiveness, and so to cruelty as well. God has made them in the image of His own perfection; nobodywants to be reminded how hard it is to reconcile the undeniable existence of evil - despite the protestationsof Christian Science - with His all-powerfulness or His all-goodness. The Devil would be the best way out asan excuse for God; in that way he would be playing the same part as an agent of economic discharge asthe Jew does in the world of the Aryan ideal. But even so, one can hold God responsible for the existenceof the Devil just as well as for the existence of the wickedness which the Devil embodies. In view of thesedifficulties, each of us will be well advised, on some suitable occasion, to make a low bow to the deeplymoral nature of mankind; it will help us to be generally popular and much will be forgiven us for it.¹¹ In Goethe’s Mephistopheles we have a quite exceptionally convincing identification of the principle of evil with thedestructive instinct:Denn alles, was entsteht,Ist wert, dass es zu Grunde geht . . .So ist dann alles, was Ihr Sünde,Zerstörung, kurz das Böse nennt,Mein eigentliches Element.The Devil himself names as his adversary, not what is holy and good, but Nature’s power to create, to multiply life -that is, Eros:Der Luft, dem Wasser, wie der ErdenEntwinden tausend Keime sich,Im Trocknen, Feuchten, Warmen, Kalten!Hätt’ ich mir nicht die Flamme vorbehalten,Ich hätte nichts Aparts für mich.