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Here follows some information about the Paroxysmal vector as formulated by Lekeuche  taken from chapter VII, the “Affect Circuit” in the “Dialectique des Pulsions”. (Drive dialectics). More details about this book follow.



Szondi uses different qualifications to explain the activity of this vector. Sometimes he speaks about

  • the “Affect vector”,  but he uses also the expressions
  • the “Paroxysmal drive (vector),
  • the “Drive to surprise” (Überraschungsdrift) or refers to
  • the “Vector of Ethics and Moral”

Szondi  uses two psychopathological  entities to explain the working of this vector: “Epilepsy” and “Hysteria”, which  both have in common that their illness is expressed in a “paroxysmal” way.

The meaning of the Greek word “paroxuno” includes:

  • “to incite, “to provoque”, “to become angry”  and in the passive form: “to aggravate, to become more violent, “to get an inflammatory aspect.

Medical science evokes the notion of paroxysm to indicate  the highest point of morbid processes. When Szondi speaks about the “Drive to Surprise” he does so because he believes to be able to confirm that the drive goal of the P drive is to surprise the enemy in order to paralyze him and make him inoffensive. (In modern times we have technically the special “surprise bombs”  of the police force!). Szondi considers the P drive  to be an archaic mechanism to protect the individual against extern and intern dangers. According to him every living organism uses a behavioral pattern which outmost goal is to surprise the enemy in order to paralyze him and make him inoffensive.

The two factors (e) and (hy) of the P drive are thus at the origin of a sequence of movements used as protection mechanisms against outside danger. As such in (e) the person faints in order to avoid to be killed by the enemy. In (hy) the individual agitates with theatrical movements.


When Szondi refers to the P Vector as the “Affect Vector” he does so in connection with the fact that he considers the energy sources of the surprise drive to be the affects. Szondi writes that the surprise drive is nourished (“loaded” ) by the raw-brutal (e) and  tender affects (hy) which accumulate in this vector in order suddenly to discharge in an explosive manner in the form of movements or other affective expressions. Szondi differentiates them according to four vector reactions.


The epileptic form (e) accumulates the raw affects and discharge them in the form of a crisis (e-). But the same factor conditions likewise the social positive aspect of (e+), the inclination to be patient, to be just, to have pity, to benevolence.

One finds the (e-) often in psychosomatic states where rage is directed against the own body (auto intoxication by rage): Stuttering, skin diseases, ulcers, hypertension, intestinal colitis, brain attack, infarct.


The (hy) factor assembles affects of a finer nature.

The reaction (hy -) puts up moral barriers in the form of shyness, bashfulness.   In its positive form (hy+) is characterized by the need for recognition, ambition and show of. But on the pathological level (hy-) can also mean: immobilization, protection against the terrible sexual and existentialistic dangers, while (hy+)   pushes to sexual exhibition, trembling saccades (war neuroses, traumatic neuroses), tics, motoric agitation and hysterical crisis based on the need to be loved.


Already Freud pointed out that man’s affective activity is made up of “contrasting pairs” (e.g. love-hate). He writes (in Ratman) “If it was otherwise there might probably be no repression and no neurosis” - and mentions that “the affective conflicts are welded together in couples”. It is always possible that a kind of turnover into the contrary is produced. Hate (e-) is reversed into guilt (e+). Love is reversed into hate. Even the original Greek word for epilepsy “epilambo” includes in itself an antagonistic tendency. At one side it signifies “to attack and surprise the enemy” and at the other side “to retain and inhibit all hostile action”


This  antagonism corresponds to the double sense and contradiction that characterizes  the essence of the factor (e). In the Pathoanalytical working through of the Szondi Test, the Paroxysmal vector follows after the interpretation of the Sexual Vector. Lekeuche points out that the characteristic for the S Vector is the individual’s relation with his own body and with the body of his partner (totally or partially). As much as that is the instrument of the pleasure, may it be accepted or denied, it is in another word a sexual object.


The world of the sexual vector presupposes a kind of dual functioning between objects:

“I am a sexual object for the other and myself and the others an object for myself and to themselves”. What here is important is to enjoy oneself without any restriction.

In this S vector the first intention is to satisfy the pleasure imperative.


In contrast to this in the P vector a new step forward is made in the history of development. The individual is confronted (summoned) by the necessity to renounce.

He is forced to consider the elementary truth that those who put their body and soul totally in the service of pleasure finish making their live impossible.

The sexual drives are insupportable, never satisfied, they never stop to claim satisfaction,

on and on,  they never have enough. In this way the task of the individual becomes thus at a certain moment to limit their claims, if not he will be taken away by his sexual drives like a feather in a stream. Thus the problem which with the individual is confronted at the stage of the P vector  is the following:

“How to limit, regulate, and order his sexual drive”. He has to learn how to accept a satisfaction that is at the same time limited and codified. In other words he has to submit the sexual claims to those of the LAW, that from its side claims a renouncement of  unlimited and anarchistic pleasure. In other words the individual has to comply to the necessities of social and family life


Szondi´s geniality has given us the key elements that permits us to define the Affect- vector and to understand the essence of what happens there.

Finish citation of  Lekeuche´s text.


In connection with this citation  I to give herewith a revieuw about Lekeuche´s  and Mélon´s book:  DIALECTIQUE DES PULSIONS. It is probably the best French introduction to Szondi´s drive theory. I hope that someday this book will be translated into English. Herewith follows an English translation of this review about it. The original text in French follows together with a bibliography.


Szondi Greetings to you all from

Leo Berlips, editor Szondi Forum.




par Philippe Lekeuche et Jean Melon

Edition De Boeck-Wesmael s.a., 1990

203 Avenue Louise - 1050 Bruxelles. Belgique


At present this work can be considered to be the best French introduction to the Drive theory of Leopold Szondi and the experimental diagnosis of drives, the famous Szonditest. It contributes to a new way of interpreting the Szondi theory as it is applied since more than twenty years by the Louvain School, around Jacques Schotte.


The Szondi Drive scheme is shown to be able to analyze essential  psychopathological phenomena and concepts, mainly Freudian, which cover the working out of a theoretical system at the cross roads of different fields of knowledge about men (psychanalyse, psychiatry, phenomenology, etc….) seen from a general clinical anthropological perspectrive.


This book contributes equally with a large part to the necessary renewing of concepts. In the first place as for the nosographic registers, partly unknown by psychoanalysts, for example concerning the disorders of contact which include notably the thymopathies,  psychopathies and drug addictions.  Finally it re-opens again, seen from a new angle the question of the test´s validity and the Szondi Drive scheme.

Jean Mélon

Doctors degree in Medicin and Psychology. Psychiatrist with private practice.

Psychoanalyste, member of the Belgium psychoanalytical society since 1976.

Alhough in the first place practicing psychoanalysis, he uses the Szondi theory and test as the best auxiliaries as for theoretical clinical research.

Philip Lekeuche 

Doctor in Psychology. From 1979 till 1988, researcher and later assistant at the Catholique University of Louvain. He is actually often invited as organizer and Guest speaker teaching Szondi theory.   Since 1984 he works with research related with the theory and treatment of drug addicts within the frame of Solbosch hospital in Bruxelles.


The important neologism “Pathoanalyse” refers to the psychoanalytical horizon as central reference, but not totally, it insists on he relevance of the generalization of the famous Freudian principle called the “broken crystal”, according to which the entity-forms of the nosography are disclosing the subjects structure, and even – expressed  in another language  point out to the definitive categories of “human condition”.

From this perspective the Library of Pathoanalyse has the intention to unit  the congruent works of different sciences but register each one within the frame of such a general clinical anthropology.



par Philippe Lekeuche et Jean Melon

Edition De Boeck-Wesmael s.a., 1990

203 Avenue Louise - 1050 Bruxelles. Belgique


Le présent ouvrage constitue à ce jour la meilleure introduction française à la théorie pulsionnelle de Léopold Szondi ainsi qu'au diagnostic expérimental des pulsions, le fameux test de Szondi. Il contribue à la relecture de la théorie szondienne telle qu'elle est effectuée par l’Ecole de Louvain, autour de Jacques Schotte, depuis une vingtaine d'années.


Le schéma pulsionnel szondien y apparaît comme un analyseur des phénomènes psychopathologiques et des concepts, freudiens pour l'essentiel, qui couvrent à en élaborer la théorisation au carrefour de différents champs de la connaissance de l'homme (psychanalyse, psychiatrie, phénoménologie, etc...) dans la perspective d'une anthropologie clinique générale.


Ce livre fait également une large part au renouvellement nécessaire des concepts pour l'abord de registres nosographiques partiellement méconnus par les psychanalystes comme, par exemple, celui des troubles du contact qui inclut notamment les thymopathies, les psychopathies, et les toxicomanies. Il rouvre enfin, sous un angle nouveau, la question de la validité du test et du schéma pulsionnel de Szondi.


Jean Mélon


Docteur en Médecine et en Psychologie. Psychiatre de pratique privée.

Psychanalyste, membre de la Société Belge de Psychanalyse depuis 1976.

Praticien de la psychanalyse avant tout, il s'aide de la théorie et du test de Szondi comme des meilleurs auxiliaires de sa recherche théoricoclinique.

Depuis 1985, il enseigne la psychologie clinique à l'Université de Liège.


Philippe Lekeuche


Docteur en Psychologie. De 1979 à 1988, chercheur puis assistant à l'Université Catholique de Louvain. il y est actuellement Maître de Conférences invité, titulaire de l'enseignement szondien. Depuis 1984, il poursuit des recherches relatives à la théorie et au traitement des toxicomanies dans le cadre du Solbosch à Bruxelles.


Le signifiant néologique de "pathoanalyse" renvoie à l'horizon de la psychanalyse comme référence centrale, mais non pas unique. i1 insiste sur la pertinence de la généralisation du célèbre principe freudien dit du "cristal brisé" selon lequel les entités-formes de la nosographie sont révélatrices de la structure du sujet, voire, en un autre langage, des catégories définitoires de la condition humaine. Dans cette perspective, la Bibliothèque de Pathoanalyse se propose de réunir des ouvrages relevant des diverses sciences humaines mais s'inscrivant chacun dans le cadre d'une telle anthropologie clinique générale.




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