L. Szondi

Szondi Institut
Szondi Vectors Descriptions
New Developments
Szondi's Applications
Szondi Groups
Personality Developments
The Latin Section

The Psychology of the Paroxysmal drive.



The following considerations  as for the psychology of the Paroxysmal drive started from the attempt to develop the fate-psychological drive system in such a way that it also can become " useful " in the teaching of psychoanalytical oriented development. 


Need tendencies, need and drive goals were defined and formulated to a large part in the language of pathology and biological criteria.  The uniqueness (originality) of this system is however based therein that thereby the requirement is formulated to construct a generally accepted Need system of the human psyche and its fate-determining conflicts. A system that at the same time  establishes the order by which illness, illness development and general disease picture can be understood, based on generally human, opposite needs and unresolved conflicts. 


The psychological contrasts are not arbitrary (polar) interlocked in a schema but such by which both development, maturing and illness become understandable.   Dialectic thinking in the fate psychology stands therefore in front before a double danger and difficulty:


1.  Terms valid for pathology may not simply be transferred into the range of the general deep-psychological theory of the opposite need tendencies strivings and impulses. 

2. Drive-dialectic and the polar opposite needs and strivings are in each case of a different kind, according to whether we have to do with

·      development-stimulating conflict-resolutions or with

·      development-restraining disturbances or

·      ill-making illusory fake solutions. 

We must acknowledge that the fate-psychological drive system still contains many gaps and questions, particularly regarding the commonly used terms and concepts, and determination of the need and of the drive goals. 

(Left out a part of the difficult theoretical questions,  you will find this part at the end of the translation)


The four affect tendencies

We try to describe the four opposite affect excitations as affect- energy pushing forward from life sources (vitality), laying at the base of our emotional experiences.


We describe them with the concepts we use to indicate the first everyday affects, like the  excitations  of children in their first year of life. We indicate the “epileptic form” of the  affect tendencies by the (e) factor: Shrieking as expression of rage in contrast to weeping in order to get sympathy and pity.

The “hysteric form” of the affect tendencies are expressed by the (hy) factor by:

Enjoyment when being seen, looked at and feeling to be loved and appreciated in contrast to shyness, shame and refusing to be seen.


We consider these childish affect excitations (energy) as the “original” ones, which are in a very intensive way connected to each other and which during development phases interweave with new connections or contrasts.


Moreover they can be extended in a plurality with other drives (Contact, Sex)  and Ego tendencies.

However the extensions of the emotional experience always falls back on the four original affect excitations as the sources of energy.

 They “activate” the ecstatic “being carried away” (Ergriffen sein) in rage, pity, enjoyment and refusal. They get the person “out of his skin” and transform him in a liberating or alarming, in a joyful or depressive way into a relation with something else.


We indicate each of these four “original” Affectenergies, their distortions and finally their pathological manifestations with different concepts.



The four original opposite affect excitations are in the factor (e):

The affect excitation (e-), indicates the rise of feelings of  protest and revolt, and the “primitive” affect excitations as reaction to pain and agony.

In contrast (e+) points out to feelings of compassion, weeping, giving rise to acts of social  assistance, based on the need (urge) to get protection and rescue from pain and agony (+e). Both times the reactions to pain and agony can be felt directly by the subject or indirectly, by identification with suffering objects.


The need goal (e) is the urge for pacification, to know one self to be safe, the need to be protected and rescued from avoidable pain. It includes the longing for consideration of our fear-, pain and  a tolerance with our aggressive reactions when exposed to unavoidable pain.


The two opposite (e) affect tendencies are:  (e+) Weeping, as a call for compassion and (e -)  Rebellion as protest, the shrieking out of pain and agony in rage and hate, in envy and jealousy, with anger and revenge feelings (e-).


The sense of justice develops in the exchange between revolting, protesting, and suffering and weeping, in the revolt against those who cause pain and agony ¡by refraining and hurting us, or in instead in repairing; when showing consideration for pain, and tolerance for anxiety when  getting injured or wounded (hurt).


The factor (hy):

Stand for the affectexcitations when  “being looked at”. They belong  to the “tender, erotic” affect excitations: The desire to be looked at, being loved, and admired (hy+); or the shame and the refusal to be seen and instead to use as a substitute the stage of the internal spectator and in this way to save the feeling to be loved and estimated (hy-).When ashamed and shy in the outer world,  we will be admired on this interior stage and be recalled by our internal spectators.


The need goal of the (hy) factor is the urge to be loved and to be estimated by what one is, has and can. The sense of  social competence (Schicklichkeit und Geschick haben) develops in the exchange between restraint and showing oneself, in the appearance on the stage or in hiding and being content  with oneself alone; or  in the preparation for a celebration , in the pre- joy as well as in triumph, to stand in front on the stage alone or with others alone.


The need for protection and safety by feeling pacified  and knowing to be satisfied, the survival of one self and one’s life refers to the consideration (granted or forced) for the limits each person has to accept.. 

The need to be seen in a positive joyful, loving way and to know to be estimated has to do with the increase of the quality of life. It concerns those “places” on the stage of the life, of which R.M. Rilke says, “where one once somewhere stood in front and where the movement is largest”. By this urge to be joyfully seen and be greeted and received, gratitude feelings develop and do we care for to get such a welcome by those, which we love or have loved.


Thinking about the affect-vector focuses in a strange way around the difficult task to image (represent)  the contrast between live and death. As an increase of life when getting performing on the stages of life and the world and in the prevention of  and coping with the danger of the destruction of life; whereby this overcoming will be experienced as Live stimulating,  in the form of rescuing, helping, and protesting.


The four “original” (normal) contrasting affectexcitations are:


(e+) suffering, weeping, compassion, feeling of compassion, Need for Compensation, repair

(hy+) show off, being gorgeous, being radiant, Rejoicing (because being seen, desired, loved, admired)

“Healing wounds”


(e-) Revolting, protest, rebellion and envy, jealousy, rage, Hate, anger, revenge, Urge to  damage, to injure. 

(hy-) hiding, restraint, refuse, Social over- sensitivity, shame, shyness.


Disturbed affect energies


The interaction (the contrasting, as well as the joining together) of the four opposite affect energies is disturbed. In the test appear individual factor reactions or combinations of factor reactions (vector pictures) in a stereotyped form, or factors and vector pictures may be characterized by extreme variability and contrast.


However they do not appear yet to be connected in a typical pathological way with certain drives or ego-tendencies.


Another characteristic is found  in the fact that the same affect tendency is constant being present in the foreground and in the background profile; e.g. constantly (e+) or (e + hy-) in the VGP and EKP.


I. Inability (reluctancy)  to protest and rebell.

II. Inability (reluctancy) to make compensation, or to repair.

III. Inability (reluctancy) to permit oneself feelings of shame ­ or  shyness.

IV. Inability (reluctancy ) to show off oneself.





(e+) guilt, conscience  anxiety , fear to hurt.


(hy+) need for recognition, admiration

Inhibition of any Animosity

Exhibition boastful


(e-) Unconscious death desire or


(hy-) concealing

Excessive excitation of primitive - Affects

Adjustment, disguise


Fear for   being punished


The DISTURBANCES in the affect life are primarily based on the elimination or suppression of the opposite affect tendency. The person feels no urge to make up, to repair because he  accumulated so much hate, envy and rage that he can not have any feeling of compassion or concern for those who suffer or complaining. The stronger the reproach and accusation feelings are, e.g. when (e -) combines with the paranoid (p -) tendency, the more improbably becomes the capacity for empathy or participation with the object. In the same way neither the “Pacifist” or  the “good-natured kind person ” can decide to protest and start to revolt by force against the aggressor. The fear of the expected disappointment, suffering or shrieking paralyze them in advance.


In contrast the assertive one (hy+)  does not want to stand back at all. For him to stand in the footlight, to be inconsiderate and to use each chance and opportunity to put away others aside and stand all alone in front is a source of pleasure and makes life worth living.  He does not know anything about the powerful excitation in restraining oneself or in waiting for the adequate time to step forward, alone or together with his team. He does not know anything about letting himself be absorbed by the beauty and appearance of the other.


When one is afraid for punishment  one does not dare to show, what one is, has or can, thinks, did or wish to do. One conceals or disguises oneself; one does not has the courage to defend one’s case, action or opinion in front of the others.

The elimination and suppression of the opposite affect excitation results in specific fears:

With the factor tendency:

(+e): the fear to hurt or to kill others, whereby they might become angry and dangerous, or the fear that they might become sad, leave us or die.

(- e): the fear to be suppressed, to get less or to become exploited. “the rivals, will rob the love object”. The  fear to be attacked or killed. (These fears stand in connection with the energy of the primitive affects, such as rage, envy etc.)

(+hy): the fear not to be seen, to be left over, to be forgotten. To be not anymore  the preferential one, the chosen one, the first one..

(- hy): Fear to be laughed at, to be despised, exposed, judged condemned, criticized, to be misunderstood.


The pathological Affects

They result by the elimination of certain affect tendencies and by the coupling of the remaining with specific  Ego and Drive disease-syndromes. The disturbance appears after that a  not observed congestion of excitations discharge in a sudden explosive way. These ought to protect the person “against outside and internal dangers”.




(e+) Phobic fears, compensating alleged guilt. Need to be punished.

(hy+) movement-storm  symptoms (in order to be loved or to be appreciated)

Totally identification as  a form of reconciliation with the hated love object, or  the one one wish  to kill (“todgewünschte Liebesojekt)


(e-) Unrestrained murder- and injury impulses.

(hy-) Immobilization symptoms. (unreal Fantasy world, escape into the world of lies” I order to feel being loved or appreciated)

Murderer due to primitive affects (in contrast to the sadistic murderer.lb)



In this pathological range everything is focused on eccentric problem solutions, illusionary satisfactions and the action of desperately trying to get hold of  some prove of love. In no other way, only so (within the given internal and outside circumstances) the patient believes that love and pacification  can be maintained or regained. Mostly in a way totally  incomprehensible for a   normal person. (Pathological illusory solutions)




The epilepsy group of affect tendencies include excitations of contrasting qualities, which are always connected with the experiencing of pain and agony. At one side  in the form of helplessness and the need for assistance (need to be rescued). They  are  expressed by weeping or crying, by suffering with the intention to get compassion. In the opposite form they show the excitation of primitive affects whose discharge try to extinguish or to decrease pain and to render harmless the aggressor.


The hysteria-group of affects refer to excitations in connection with the activity of ¨being seen”,  may it be actually or having taken place earlier.

Even they can express themselves at one side in the form of rejoicing and radiating on the stage of life and the world.

In the opposite form they are expressed as shame feelings, shyness and by refusing to show oneself here and now in front of the just these spectators. In the determination not to be exposed, in the persistent refusal to disclose openly a secret. In a more positive form in the decision not to act against one´s own convictions and not to be enticed by possible applause.


The psychology of the factor (e)


We characterized the affect tendency (e+) with the keywords: weeping, suffering, compassion- producing, feelings of compassion and need to repair (compensate). On the one hand we thereby want to place the sudden overwhelming feeling of “compassion” in the center of the tendency (+e), on the other hand we lean with this on the “compensation teaching” as presented by M. Klein and the by  D.W. Winnicott presented theory of the development of “feelings of concern for the objects” on. For both authors are the development of the feelings of compassion and concern for the object crucial factors for the development of the object relations and for the constitution of the Super Ego.

Suffering and crying, as a form of protection from the feeling of feeling oneself being  defenseless. The urge  to defend oneself  against pain and agony by  calling for assistance, perhaps by requests and begging, by weeping, complaining and  accusations (with the paranoid tendency - p) and then the transformation from weeping and crying to getting angry and finally to the expression of hate and rage, are features of Primal affects. In rage and weeping (“psychological helplessness”) lies “the drive energy (roots) of the ethical conscience”.


Only in reference to the original Urszenerie with its rage and weeping can the ethical feeling and the sense for justice develop. The adult does everything   to avoid to experience such primal feelings again, and especially their mixture (rage – weeping; despair - aggression) The loss of the possibility to connect with the Primalaffects rage and weeping impairs  the development of the sense of justice, in the same way as the remaining fixed on the childish level of stubborn vacillating between calling for help and rage attacks, or keeping on stubbornly to suppress weeping by rage attacks.


The affect tendency (+e)


Both affect tendencies - we explained - are reactions to pain and agony (L. Szondi: “Danger and fright situations”). From them develop in  favorable cases the search for assistance by “acting out” (relaxation), by weeping and crying. It concerns the expectation of assistance and when sufficient “rescue” (D.W. Winnicott) was experienced,  is later followed by the “need for guidance”  (M. Klein) of the child. The demand for guidance, definition of limits and prohibitions as  a form of protection against the too strong excitation of the child´s primitive affect tendencies with their “catastrophic” painful and embarrassing consequences.

By the action of  compassion and by helping and rescuing, thprimitive the experience of compassion together by the educator and the child for the suffering and  endangered objects, an important component is mobilized: the appearance of feelings of concern for objects and the development  of the compensation need in the child.

The acting out by crying and manifestations of rage can, in favorable cases,  by negotiating the dissatisfaction  bring out the capacity to protest and revolt, An ability, which protects the child against excessive accumulation of primitive affect excitations and against the constant useless crying. Weeping and crying, changing into rage or compassion enter themselves as two contrasting but at the same time mixed affect tendencies into the daily life of the child .


They separate as opposite affect tendencies but are nevertheless both related to pain and agony and thus by the urge for protection and rescue, not only apart, but at the same time joined to each other. They are the two basic affect (e) reactions of humans regarding the experiencing of pain and agony. They force him to find sometimes assistance and rescue in the compassion, or to act in protest and revolt. They can also disintegrate, fall apart themselves into opposites and exclude the other affect tendency. In that case they fall out from the polarity into the onesided self-pity and weeping or into  reckless rage, an inexorable open or secret urge for destruction.

In education the care for the polar relationship would mean that one does not have to react immediately on each weeping or call for assistance. Neither does one be afraid for the rage attacks or constantly demonstrate one’s  supremacy to suppress them. The development from rage to protest and revolt (by negotiating the 

dissatisfaction ) and from weeping and compassion-initiating to feelings of concern for objects, develops in the meeting of the child with his love objects, his

“caretaker ” and “educator”. This is also true for the differentiation or separation of the originally mixed Primal affects (rage, weeping, despair). Already the baby and the infant must learn to absorb (work through)  much crying and rage. But they can do this only, if they in the beginning and continuously experience sufficient “rescue” and the anxious dealing of the love objects with the child’s dissatisfactions

Dealing with the primitive affects of the child and the constant negotiating of its dissatisfaction can in unfavorable cases led to an egoistic ego-centric assertion of the child’s wishes, to weeping and self-pity or scenes of inconsiderate rage and despair and finally to a stubborn self-willedness (inability,to experience in a positive way  the difference to be an adult and being a child.)83

Feelings of concern about the refraining-, rescue- and pacification activities by the sometimes sad or angry parents and a need for compensation cannot develop from  ego-centricity (Eigen-Willigkeit). If however - in favorable cases  - the child despite its need to be guided and despite its ability for identification (feelings for the other) still is allowed to express its revolt and its protest, then this is a certification for  a  (genuine) “faith in good and helpful objects”. In certain emergency situations the child may expect helpfulness but must nevertheless express this by revolt and protest. It must force the educators to negotiate even if this will at last ends with requirements and prohibitions. It had to insure itself, again and again; I am not unimportant to them, they have not disowned me. In this way the child protects itself against the loss of faith in good and helpful objects. The need for guidance, the feelings of concern for the objects, together with the ability to revolt and protest, justify  the (genuine) faith in the good and helpful object. This may “in principle “be checked  (inquired) by revolting and protest and despite these provocations proved to be true. Without such a challenge there is no such a faith., For what then only would have been left over would be “infantile attachment”, “seduction” or “subjecting”.


The affect tendency (- e)


It is one of earnings/services of fate psychology that it tries to determine the affects, their ways they present themselves, their function in the “psychological household” and their position between the vital impulse-needs and the Ego in a more exact way. We cannot simply throw any longer all aggressive and destructive tendencies into one pot with the label aggression or sadism.

We refer to the distinctions introduced by Fate analysis between

  • Sadism in the Sexual vector.
  • The urge to kill in the affect vector.
  • The destructivity in the activities of the Ego and
  • The frustration aggression in the social and contact vector.

The same concerns the different drive “roots” of the ability to develop a capacity to love. M. Klein described the meaning of the affect excitations such as envy, jealousy, hate and rage in connection with the childlike experiencing of being persecuted, depressive fears and the defense mechanisms of the Ego. The connections of these affect excitations with certain need frustrations (pain- and agony- and fear situations) and with aggressive oral, anal and genital needs and with the defense mechanisms of the Ego are in their complexity and uncannyness often difficult to see through.


The assumption pushes itself again and again forward that the primitive affects (envy, jealousy, rage and hate, anger and revenge) and the fear for their excitation and for the possible catastrophic effects on the object relations, constitute and present the dramatic content and core of each disease picture. One get the impression (assumes) that the different illness categories and disease pictures essentially “only”  are  different ways in which the subject searches to be rescued from the fall into the threatening brinks of disaster that the primitive affects would lead to.


The death desires and fantasies to kill


The fascination of the child by murder fantasies is something of the most uncanny experiences with which the child psychologist has to come to terms with. Wishes to kill, to shoot, to chop of the head, to hang, to strangle, to run a spear through, to drown or  to hack in pieces, to be devoured or to devour, often connected with the desire to torment or feelings of revenge often with scornful and destructive feelings of Triumph.  All these one finds, as well in psychotic as in neurotic development disturbances, in children with POS, in borderline children, but…… also in the most affectionate sweetest smaller and larger children. They all are fantasy formations and play activities whose connection with primitive affect excitations, (sadism or masochism, feelings of manic triumph or destructive object- and self devaluation) in the origin of the child’s history often is difficult to understand.


Mostly they have to do with fantastic, dramatized “productions” of primitive affects, often typical of specific illnesses. The originally agony and pain producing experiences are difficult to guess. The fantasies and plays appear as if dissolved from their origin frame: from the old, already long forgotten or not disclosed frustration- and Ego impairment feelings. The fears and disappointments and the earlier experience of being cast between weeping, need for assistance and feelings of rage and hate.


All primitive affects are connected with specific fears and feelings of pain, each one forms its specific “scene”. Represented in a simplified way the connections can be : Hate with the feeling of disappointed love. Rage with suppression, envy  with the feeling of not getting enough or getting nothing. Jealousy connected with the fear of  loss of  loss. Revenge with narcissistic offense, sudden anger with the experiencing of cruelty and inconsideration. The discharge of such affect excitations take away the pain and the agony. These mental pain sensations (frustration and feelings of Ego impairment) belong thus to the “internal reality”.

The not discharged affect excitations (weeping, shrieking and the primitive Affects) and the fear to express them form the core of the internal reality, seen from its  dark threatening side. (To describe the opposite side one might use the terms of M. Klein “internal wealth” and “Introjections of the good objects”)

The fantasies of killing, injury and slaughtering appear mostly, as mentioned, from the  “internal reality” as if detached  from the affect and impulse center. They become played up without affect participation or are transferred, by Phantasms and bysymbolization, into fantastic scenes. Sometimes they can be considered to be wishes  to do away with objects, to kill them: The child would like to get rid of the objects, does not want to have to think about them anymore. It wants to break away from an internal conflict which they originate and which is unsolvable (-e,  m-: need for contact separation). In this action of eliminating can also lay a protest, which wants to express  that it does not need them anymore, that it does not want them any longer or that it is not anymore afraid for them. The child can pursue the objects with accusation, with caution and cunning and elimination (e-,  p-: projection). It can surprise them, catch them unaware and kill them in a violent way (e-) or by devaluation and conquest hurt them (- e, +s, - k, - m), make them powerless and kill them.

Finally it can act as if being “possessed” by blood thirst, showing more or less affect, perhaps in the way of a storm-like fighting against “hallucinated” enemies in a life or death struggle. If we can recognize, which affect excitation are involved (rage or hate etc.) we might behind such acting out and fantasies get nearer to the frustrated longing for love and anxiety.

Especially when we know “what is what” in the psychology of the primitive affects and the connection of such scenes with the life-historical events of the child  and can  when we know the behavior of the love objects of the child.


The following features within the vector of the primitive affects are in any Child psychotherapy of crucial importance:

-          To take the risk to act out the accumulated primitive affect excitation within a psychodrama situation or in a transference relationship.

-         To be able to express the primitive affect excitations lying at the basis of the fears, pain and agony feelings. To learn to be able to understand such reactions to pain in oneself and others.

-         The affect reversal from intentions to kill or do unlawful acts into compassion, repairing and helping (from e- to e+) and to get conscious the feelings of guilt.

-         The awaking of the need for protection by setting up limits and by offering support by refraining uncanny

-         affect excitations and their possible frightening consequences.


The affect tendency (e-) is the affect energy, which lets humans jump up with pain and agony, get them in excitation. That forces  him  to see or search and pursue (p-) the enemy, the cruel suppressor, the predatory rival, the persecutor or tormentor.

To attack him in amore or less surprising way or with cunning and caution (e -, p-), to hurt him, make him powerless, to kill him or to force him to compensate.


 The affect excitation and its discharge – if not misdirected by feelings of paranoid persecution (Delusion) or by an epileptic type of killing frenzy, erase  pain and agony. We must learn to see these primitive affects as an important energy source, which can expand the life and the personality in its development. At the same time it cannot be denied that by these affects much mischief comes into the world.


To be able to experience the energy of (- e) as a source of strength, as a life-enriching energy; the assumption that in “hostile feelings” and in “primitive affects lies psychological energy, which liberates us and ought to be made accessible to us are considerations, which place us before questions, which not only bring the Psychotherapists in embarrassment. One has tried to differentiate “constructive” hate from “destructive”, one speaks of “objective hate” or of hate as a “passion”, by which we can find stability in us and which opens up an understanding of the world. One speaks of the “ability” and “inability” to hate, the ability or inability to feel jealousy .


In this connection we have also to think about the “affect socializations” by which primitive affects will unload in a socially “more useful” way, like envy by contest and by free competition. Rage and revolt by political ideologies, intimidation, threat and combat missions. Hate by enthusiasm for war games and by killing animals. Revenge  by suppression and despise by he struggle  between generations and in class warfare. The world of today  however is so full of destructively “energies”, and the need for  rescue from   threatening destruction, coming as well from the inside as from the  outside, is so

88 translation will be continued----------------------------------------------------


Note: for translation of the word Befriedung I used “pacification”

© 1996-2002 Leo Berlips, JP Berlips & Jens Berlips, Slavick Shibayev