Libido

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Libido in its common usage means sexual desire; however more technical definitions, such as those found in the work of Carl Jung, are more general, referring to libido as the free creative—or psychic—energy an individual has to put toward personal development or individuation. Within the category of sexual behavior, libido would fall under the appetitive phase wherein an individual will usually undergo certain behaviors in order to gain access to a mate.[1]

Contents

History of the concept

Sigmund Freud popularized the term[Need quotation to verify] and defined libido as the instinct energy or force, contained in what Freud called the id, the largely unconscious structure of the psyche. Building on the work of Karl Abraham, Freud developed the idea of a series of developmental phases in which the libido fixates on different erogenous zones—first in the oral stage (exemplified by an infant's pleasure in nursing), then in the anal stage (exemplified by a toddler's pleasure in controlling his or her bowels), then in the phallic stage, through a latency stage in which the libido is dormant, to its reemergence at puberty in the genital stage.[2] Freud pointed out that these libidinal drives can conflict with the conventions of civilized behavior, represented in the psyche by the superego. It is this need to conform to society and control the libido that leads to tension and disturbance in the individual, prompting the use of ego defenses to dissipate the psychic energy of these unmet and mostly unconscious needs into other forms. Excessive use of ego defenses results in neurosis. A primary goal of psychoanalysis is to bring the drives of the id into consciousness, allowing them to be met directly and thus reducing the patient's reliance on ego defenses.[3]

According to Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, the libido is identified as psychic energy. Duality (opposition) that creates the energy (or libido) of the psyche, which Jung asserts expresses itself only through symbols: "It is the energy that manifests itself in the life process and is perceived subjectively as striving and desire." (Ellenberger, 697)

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