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November 1924


Arch NeurPsych. 1924;12(5):547-553. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1924.02200050062007

The theoretical foundation of psychanalysis, which Freud has called metapsychology, seems to become more and more abstracted from the correspending clinical work. An account of the present status of metapsychology may therefore take the form of a study of the gradual development of the main psychanalytic theories.

Metapsychology has three fundamental principles: 1. The topographical principle relates to the spatial arrangement of mental phenomena in the conscious, foreconscious and unconscious spheres. 2. The dynamic principle refers to the measure in which the various tendencies or contents are invested1 with certain quantities of libido. 3. The economic principle has to do with the fact that the mental apparatus tends to keep the quantity of excitation as low as possible, or at least constant. This is one of the important aspects of the pleasure principle. "The pleasure principle is derived from the constancy principle" (Freud).

Pleasure and pain constitute one