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Freud and Death

Freud suggested that death is the end goal of life. He noted that after people experience a traumatic event (such as war), they often reenact the experience. He concluded that people hold an unconscious desire to die, but that this wish is largely tempered by the life instincts. In Freud's view, self-destructive behavior is an expression of the energy created by the death instincts. When this energy is directed outward onto others, it is expressed as aggression and violence. What we observe in others as indifference, frustration, and -- to a degree-- depression, may be considered aspects of the death instinct. Much of what infants and children 'learn' in early childhood is a consequence of reactions to and result of feedback or the lack thereof from primary caregivers and attachment figures.

What are your thoughts?

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Since this is asking for what your thoughts are, I am going to provide you with several scenarios of possible children. Hopefully these examples will help guide you towards a clearer picture of what your own thoughts are about the Freud's death instinct when applied to children and their subsequent behaviors.

Unfortunately, there are children who are raised in circumstances where they regularly observe and witness the death instinct in their environment and families. However, on the other end of the spectrum, children who are raised in very loving and caring atmospheres may still end up developing maladaptive behaviors that resemble the death instinct.

For instance, a young girl, C. may have been born into poverty. She witnessed the murder of her father and the depression of her mother from a very young age. The trauma of witnessing her father's murder will stay with her until she has reached an age she is capable of fully processing this event. This reenactment may manifest itself in various ways, i.e. as anxiety over a "monster" devouring her or as extreme aggression and violence towards others. The depression of her mother may be learned as an appropriate way to deal with the outside world, and she may learn that approaching the world with a negative perspective and sadness is the safest ...

Solution Summary

The expert determines what we observe in others as indifference and frustration. The primary caregivers and attachment figures are determined.

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