The Energy Of PsycheThe Energy Of Psyche

The Energy Of Psyche. In classical psychoanalytic theory, the dynamic force behind all mental processes. According

to Sigmund Freud, the basic sources of this energy are the instincts or drives that are located in the id and seek

immediate gratification according to the pleasure principle.

In psychology, psychic energy, or psychological energy, is the energy by which the work of the personality is

performed. The concept of mental energies moving or displacing between various adjoined, conscious, and

unconscious, mental systems was developed predominantly in Sigmund Freud’s 1923 The Ego and the Id.

The psychic energy operates in three ways following the principles of opposites, equivalence, and entropy. The

principle of opposites means that each aspect of the psyche has its opposite that creates energy.

 psychic energy?! What is mental energy called?! What are the principles of psychic energy?

Newly appointed to the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins in 1970, I wasn’t sure what to expect when the

department chair called me into his office to discuss a special assignment. “I keep hearing about these ‘new’

therapies coming from the West Coast,” he told me. “Are they just more California fluff or developments worth knowing about? To find out.”

At the time, traditional psychoanalysis and behaviorism had been rapidly losing their “market share.” More than 200

new brands of therapy were popping up on the workshop circuit, promoted in the alluring new language of “peak

experiences,” “personal growth,” and “self-actualization.” During the next seven months, I investigated 46 of these

new therapies, studying their uneven research studies, conducting extensive telephone or in-person interviews with

their primary proponents, and directly experiencing more than a dozen in weekend workshops or other formats.

Despite my hope for wonder cures, I had to admit that utopian clinical models, unshakeable therapist conviction, and even emotionally thrilling experiences didn’t necessarily yield better ways of processing emotions or experiences.

I did, nonetheless, witness therapeutic moments that seemed brilliant and saw positive changes that people were still describing months later. While I wasn’t able to connect such results to a particular method, theory,

or type of client, I came to some conclusions about what increased the odds for fortuitous therapeutic outcomes. The

roots of enduring therapeutic change seemed grounded in strong emotional, interpersonal, or somatic engagement,

shifts in self-understanding and behavior that extended beyond the clinical context, and a readiness in the client to

approach life differently. Although none of these observations was remarkable in itself, together they gave me a

much clearer appreciation of the complexity of change and the difficulty of the therapist’s task. This awareness stood

me in good stead for much of the next 40 years.

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