L. Szondi

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Pages 15 -23 of the French Original. (Total 31 Kbytes)

6.1.4. The reading from a periodical perspective of the drive circuits

6.1.5. Positions and the fate of the drive (sid. 5)

6.1.4. The reading from a periodical perspective of the drive circuits

The interpretation takes here into account

· the sense of the direction, progressive or regressive, taken in each vector, and

· the way the drives are processed, according to the drive circuits theory, and exploited following its own logic.

Each vector covers thus four periods, marked with Latin numbers. Depending on if the most charged factor which is called dominant, with (+ ) or (-) and -, belongs to a certain level or period of the circuit.

For instance, if in the Contact vector (C ), (m+) is used in a constantly stable and quantitatively position and superior to (d+) or (d-), one says in principle that it places itself in the first period of the Contact circuit; if (d-) prevails one is in the second period and so on. The fourth period would mean that (m-) has the dominant position.

The dominant factor may be called a modulating one, as it regulates, ascertains, modulates the direction adopted by the complementary reaction, in this exemple, the reaction (d).

(In the classical Szondi interpretation, as formulated by Juettner, the s, hy, k and d are called the modulating factors. In “Umformulierung des Triebsystems, Szondiana 10 Jhrg. 1990, s 20-34. Your editor)

Depending if the reaction in d is null (0), negative (-), positive (+), or ambivalent ±), the reaction (m+) being the dominant-modulating one, we establish the times- or moments, or stages: the first (C 0 +), the second (C - +), the third (+ +), the fourth (C ± +), belonging to the first period of the Contact drive.

Page 17 original

We will choose to illustrate the principle of this way of interpretation, the well-known example FREUD uses, in the chapter VII in Traumdeutung, in order to introduce the concepts of psychic apparatus and wish-fulfilment (Wunscherfüllung).

The best is to quote:

In the first place the needs of the body emerge. The excitation stirred by an internal need looks for a descharge in motricity, what we call for an “internal modification” or “expression of a change in mood”. The infant who is hungry will scream desperately or will stir. But the situation doesnít change, as the excitation coming from an internal need responds to an ongoing inner activity and not to a momentary disonance. There cannot occur any change until, some way or other (in the case of the infant, as a consequence to an outside intervention) one gets the experience of satisfaction which puts an end to the internal excitation.

An essential element of this experience is the emergence of a certain perception (here, the food), the mnesic image of which will be associated with the memory trace of the excitation of the need. When the excitation will occur again, it will release a psychic impulse (Regung), thanks to the prior established relation, which will invest again the mnésique picure of this perception, and reconstitute the situation of the first satisfaction. This is the movement we call desire/wish.

The new appearance of the perception is the wish-fulfilment and the entire cathexis of the perception. The total investment of the pereception, starting from the exitation of the need, is the shortest way to the wish fulfilment.

Nothing hinders us to admit the presence of a primitive state of the psychic apparatus where this road is really passed by and where the wish, as a consequence, becomes a hallucination. This first psychique activity has thus a tendency to create a perceptuel identity, which means the repetition of the perception, which is connected to the need satisfaction.

A dour vital experience would have transformed this primitive psychic activity into a secondary, more adaptative one.

The identity of the perception obtained in a fast [regredient] way within the psychic apparatus, has not, on the other hand, the consequences of cathexis of the same perception coming from outside.

The satisfaction doesnít occur, so the need pushes on. There is only one possibility to make this internal cathexis equivalent to the perception coming from outside: it is to keep it continually, permanently. This is the role played by the hallucinatory psychosis and by the phantasies of the hungry (starved), where the psychic activity is absorbed trying to keep the desired object.

In order to use better the psychic force, it is necessary to stop the regression on its way, so that it not will pass beyond the remembered-image and thus that we from there can look for other ways which allow us to find out, from outside, the wished for identity (French translation, pp. 481-82)

Here we recognize the basic dichotomy of the Freudian theory, between pleasure principle and reality principle, primary process and secondary one, perceptual identity and thought identity.

When the infant is at the breast, or the breast is near him, immediately available, the need to cling to the mother can vary in intensity - from m+ to m+!!! - but the question of the missing of the object is not raised, because the situation is as if the infant doesnít doubt at all that the object is at present real and at any moment available.

If the object is taken away, the infant will express his need for the breast by agitation and screams... and, as FREUD correctly notices, that which will change will be before anything else his general mood.

Although the term used here by FREUD wouldnít be Stimmung, but Gemüt, it is just the basic way to find oneself, for the better or worse, in the “Befindlichkeit” (the experience of one's own state of being. LB), and this is the topic tackled in the Contact vector.

It is only in the second phase of the first period of the Contact circuit (C - +) when, holding back (d-) the re-presentative engramm of the real breast, the infant could hallucinate the breast, thus getting an autoerotic satisfaction. Put in other words, the passing to (d-) involves calling into play the work (activity) of the re-presentation. This means the returning to the phantasy, which supports the autoerotical satisfaction.


Page 18 original


The second phase of the first contact period (C - +, I 2) may be qualified, depending on the case, as

· hallucinatory, auto-erotical, narcissistic or

· imaginary. It is a phase regulated by the pleasure principle.

In the third phase,

· the failure of the hallucinatory satisfaction on one hand, or on the other hand,

· the necessity imposed by reality Ė the “Not des Lebens” Ė

will push the infant to search in reality (d+) for a substitut object - an “Ersatz” - which permits him to refind the same satisfaction as the first one. As long as the wish to get again this satisfaction dominates the instinctual life, one has not left the first period, dominated by the (m+) tendancy.

Thus, the reaction (C + +, I 3), is the one of

· a subject continually searching an object in the environment which could give him back the “lost happiness”.

This third phase of the first period of the Contact circuit could be named sometimes

· realist, objectual, needy or another time

· Illusive, but is always activated by the reality principle as FREUD understood it.

It is because the primal object, the real breast, is lost for ever and canít be found again, neither in the hallucination nor in the countless Ersätze, that a fourth phase will succeed the first three.

In the fourth phase (C ± +, I 4), the doubt appears concerning the possibility ever to find out an object allowing to get again the primal and full satisfaction. The object is lost for ever.

The ambivalence occurring in the problem of searching the object (d±) possibly provokes the crise (C ± ± > C 0 ±), which leads to question the principle itself of the ideal primal satisfaction and the object that gave rise to it, that is, in fine, the primal mother, Urmutter.

If the subject follows his evolution in the cycle of the Contact drive, he reaches the second period, the first phase of which is characterized by the narcissical turn upon his own body.

We can as we have done in the first period by invoking the mythic relation with the breast, use here the paradigm of the installation of the anal phase of the libidinal development.

We represent the first phase of the second period (C - 0, II 1) as the moment when the infant in his fantasy experiences his faeces as an integral part of his body, experienced as a narcissical prolongation of his own body, the most precious object, as the miser makes of his treasure an integral part of his body, the mother of her child, the father of his family, the worker of his labour, the artist of his creation, the man of his country, his religion, his ideas etc...

The second phase (C - +, II 2), where (d-) regulates or modulats (m+) corresponds to the need of renewing the contact with the environment. The narcissical self-sufficiency characterising the position (C- 0) became as unbearable as (C - +) was in the first period. One notices here that, whether in a second or in the first period of the Contact circuit, the same reaction (C - +) gets different meanings, as one can notice they are diametrically opposed. This is one of the major problems in interpretation of the Szondi test; which is easy to understand given this example.

It is because the “”demand put to (for) the other”, or the “wish to be the desire of the other fails, analogue as it had happened when searching for a substitut object (C + +) that the subject tells himself that it would be better to get away from the others and withdraw from the world

(C - -, II 3). The doubt arises about the question about the problem of the relation with the desire of the other (m ±), mixed here with the relation to the world- “No one cares of me, whether I exist or not”! This doubt concerning the problem of the relation to the world, of oneís own importance, its own worth and of oneís necessity introduces the subject to the fourth phase of the second period (C - ±, II 4).

We hope to have been clear enough and that our approach will be understood when we use this method. We add that, according to this theory, the most typical positions are, according to the periods in each vector:
C 1 e.g. C0+
S II e.g. S + -
P III e.g. P + -
Sch IV e.g. Sch Ī -

which can be translated in the following way:

A subject is never so explicit “in”

· the contact position as in (C 0 +)

· the sexual one as in (S + -)

· the etico-moral one as in (P + -)

· a subjectal one as in (Sch ± +)

The fourth phase of each period is always, as we hope you understood, the moment where the subject returns to himself, raises questions about the kind of problems in a certain field, and reflects (about his situation).

In short when he is going to put himself in the position of being “subject of” the drive as well as being the “subject exposed to the drive”, that is “subject against” (gegen) the drive. That is why we call this moment “subjectal”.

· The third phase may be called objectal ,

· The second one narcissistic and

· The first one pre-objectal.

It is possible to give other names too, under condition that they belong to a corpus of homogenous or homologous concepts, such as, for instance, the way FREUD uses the serie of terms in his work on Schreber:

· Erotism > Narcissism > Homosexuality > Heterosexuality; or somewhere else the:

· Principle of Constancy > the Pleasure principle > the Reality principle and > Beyond the pleasure principle;

· Reality-ego (Anfangs-Real-Ich ) > Pleasure-ego (Lust-ich) > Reality-ego (Real-ich) > Final reality-ego (Endgultiges Real-Ich)...

6.1.5. Positions and the fate of the drive

The theory of the circuits made us think there is an affinity between the drive positions - and their reactions - which have in each vector an identical rank. The question is to know what these positions have in common:
1 C m+ h+ e- p-
2 S d- s- hy+ k+
3 P d+ S+ hy- k-
4 Sch m- h- e+ P+

(Page 19 of the original)

One can say, for instance, that (e-) is the contactual-thymical position of the vector P, that (k-) is the neurotical-adaptative-realistic-lawful position of the vector Sch etc... but we must be able to grasp what best characterizes these quartets.

Jean MELON suggested to put them in relation to the concept of the fate of the drive.(33) as put forward by by FREUD in “Drives and their vicissitudes” (Triebe und Triebschicksale) (34), without developping the subject any more.

It is well known that FREUD had planned, editing his “Metapsychology” to tackle a series of topics, especially the one concerning the projection and sublimation, but finally he dealt only with the problem of the repression and of its basic relation to the unconsciousness.

He directed the issue of narcissism to the question melancholy. There is no doubt that, in his first article - “Drives and drive fates”- he has the intention to tackle the most difficult topics, those of the projection, close to the “Reversal into the opposite”, of narcissism, that has to do with the “Turning round upon own self” and that which has to do with the sublimation. But finally, loyal to his habitual caution, he doesnít tackle anything but what he knew well: the neurosis, the repression and the unconsciousness, paying also attention to that what destroys the narcissism: melancholy.

It is one of the most excellent virtues of the Szondian system to allow us to work out consequently a series of concepts, which FREUD had only sketched slightly.

He limited himself to suggest that they were probably a part of a homogenuous conceptual serie, but without self explaining nor justifying the meanings of such of regroupings.

However this does not hinder that it is just there where FREUDís genius appears in a genuine state,that he brings together, that what somehow is related to each other. (zusammenhängt), an ensemble.

We have seen that this was the case with the primal phantasies.

One can attempt to do the same, at least heuristically, in connection with the fate of the drives. Therefore, we will assume there is a certain affinity between the positions:

· C and “Reversal into the opposite” (Die Verkehrung ins Gegenteil)

· S and the “Turning upon the subjectís own self” (Die Wendung gegen die eigene Person) (35)

· P and “repression” (Die Verdrängung)

· Sch and “sublimation” (Die Sublimierung).

The first positions are the ones, as we already said, where

· the subject is most dependent on the environment, where the need for a container, a cover, a propp-up, a support, a “ chock-breaker “ etc... is the major need.

We may invoke here the notions introduced by Michael BALINT of “(Primary Love)” (36) and “Basic Fault” (37), or even Edmund BERGLERís “Basic neurosis” (oral) (38) in order to understand the problem in question:

· the need to cling on (m+), the need for an exclusive love (h+), the rage (e-) due to frustration and the projection (p-) as the most economical defense, called into play in any situation of an extreme despondency (Hilflösigkeit).

Distress is just what menaces the subject if the supporting object, named so well by SZONDI “Haltobjekt” is going to dissapear. (39)

“Reversal into opposite” refers most of all to the thymic reversal of mood (euphoria versus depression, m versus d) but more fundamental is the Reversal of love in hate. In any case, this is suggested by the framework of FREUDís article (“Pulsions et destins...”). The defence by hate dominates the most rudimentary psychological function of the psyche, which is characterizated by a weak autonomy and a weak differenciation of the ego.

The second positions correspond, according to the meaning we give to our translation of “Wendung gegen..”, as a “turning” of the libido to a "location” in the subjectís own person, that is to the "narcissistical” turn-about, as FREUD described it in “An Introduction to Narcissism” (“Pour introduire le narcissisme”,1914), a turning which LACAN has idealised in his “mirror stage” (1937).

· The subject adopts a conservative auto-erotical position (d-), strongly marked by anal retentionism, infatuated at the same time with his own double- a reflected image - reproduced in the primal seduction scene (s-); he remains fixed to this scene, attempts to reproduce it despite the interdictions which try to hinder him.

· He shows off to and against everything (Geltungsdrang), is compulsively pushed to make a show of himself (hy+: “Sich-zur-Schau-Stellen”) presenting himself as a “personage” (k+), in the Latin meaning of the Latin “Persona” which means “mask”. This specific mask has the role to perpetuate the image of a glorious body, as an object quite sufficient for himself and at the same time as the missing object - the “phallus”- for the other.

The hieratical “positions” of the catatonic, although they have become rare nowadays (while they had been very frequent before), perfectly illustrate the subjectís compulsion to show himself as his own statue (k+).

The emphasis put on the bodily narcissism, still protected against castration, one find as the core of melancholy, and of perversions (especially masochist and fetishist ones).

This is also true for the specific character features as far as they are based on a traumatical-scar, but also, to a certain extent, for sublimation, in so far as it it has the intention to create objects of which the perfection is assumed to be in tune with the original perfection of the specular imago. (líimago spéculaire)

The third positions have to do with

· repression, on condition to understand it as an operation to negativate the narcissistical specular imago- by definition imaginary- and totally to turn away from everything which is imaginary, by investing especially the material reality (d+), by directing the libido in the direction of domination of the external objects by the ego (s+).

Page 22 of the original

Keeping under control the erotic emotions by rejecting any kind of sentimentalism judged to be ridiculous (hy-) and largely favouring the perception of external reality which becomes the standard of the entire reality (k-): (Facts of life) This position might be qualified equally as realistic, lawfull, rational or “fatalistic”.

It is the position which we call neurotic-normal, which prevails totally in the latency period and which, afterwards, because of a certain regression (the turning from m- to m+) is characteristic for the general population. Because this is the general disposition accepted by the mass-media, it is enough to start the T.V to get an idea what it is about.

The fourth positions have connection with sublimation, as it involves

· a kind of detachment from the environment (m-), a desexualization with a “transference of passion” (h-), a kind of need for “reparation”, as correctly seen by Melanie KLEIN (e+) and the transposition of primary narcissism upon the - secondary narcissistic agency - of the egoideal (p+).

Sublimation as it is proved so frequently in the clinic, is close to psychosis, in so far as the desexualization and the withdrawal of objectlibido involves always risks to end in the abyss (void) of psychosis, which from this point of vieuw may be defined according to Michel FOUCAULT, as an “absence of the creative activity”. (absence d'oeuvre") (40)

We suggested calculating the proportions of the four types of drive positions. This would allow to form an idea of their quantitative distribution, to “asses” the prevalence of each of them and to make, based on this, an original typology even taking in account the idea of the fate of the drive.

According to whether one or another of the first, second etc drive positions is relatively prevailing to the other ones, we can describe several cases of simple figures corresponding to clinic descriptions, easy to identify and and structurally organised in a relatively sharp and highly differentiated way from one another:

1 The ideally well-balanced table, where all the positions are in equal proportions:

( 1 2 3 4 )

2 The extremely unbalanced tables

a ( I > 2 > 3> 4 )

Where the extreme dependence to the environmental objects causes easily swinging of mood and toubles of behavior (thymo-psychopaties).

b (1 2 3 4 )

Where the narcissistic claim is extreme, leading either to perverse behavior or lack of all respect for limits, especially the sexual ones; violent intrusion being the rule. It is the case of hysterical “madness”.

-Page 23 of the original-

c ( 1 2 3 4 )

Where legalism, realism and rationality are constantly invoked, causing the classic picture of obsessional “character neurosis”;

( 1 2 3 4 )

Where we meet the typical schizoid position, as one can see, especially in adolescence, in “hang upp”, “flipping out” and in the case of many patients with mental anorexia.


1. The most frequent neurotico-normal picture including the following positions: ( 1 2 3 4 )

a) Characteristic for “adapted” persons, in the meaning of having a common socialization, which means:

· Combining acceptance of moral interdictions (hy-), respect for reality (k-), active cathexis of the environmental objects in their material, concrete dimension (d+ s+), affective dependence in respect to the supporting objects (m+), a strong need to be loved (h+), an intolerance to frustration with a tendance to rage (e-) and a prevalence of collective ideals (p-) for personal developmental ideals, in the spiritual or moral meaning of the term.

b) (1 2 3 4 )

· Characteristic of persons who sublimate and where the desexualisation (h- s-) together with a retreat from the world (d- m-) are compensated by the narcissistic need to create (k+ p+) and the passionate exaltation of the affects (e+hy+)

c) ( 1 2 3 4 )

· A conjucture less common of obsessional persons where the isolation between thought and affects has as a consequence to "mentalise" all problems. Especially those which have to do with reality control ((k±), with the possession of objects (s±), with the investments of objects (s±), and in general of objects (d±) and the expressions of affects (hy±).

End of page 23 in the french original

The end of Part 1, Cours de Szondi.



33) Jean Mélon. Analyse du destin, psychanalyse et psychiatrie. In Recherches théoricocliniques en Analyse du Destin, Cahiers des Archives Szondi, n° 7, Louvain-la-Neuve, Cabay, 1984, pp. 85-129.

34) Sigmund Freud (1915). Pulsions et destins des pulsions. In Métapsychologie. Paris, Gallimard, Idées, 1968, p. 25.GW, X, p.219.

35) The French translation of “Wendung gegen...” in “Retournement contre...”, which got the approval of Jean Laplanche and J. B. Pontalis, is not very accurate, as “Gegen”, in German, has two meanings: “against”(“contre”) and “counterpart” (“vis-à-vis de”). Reffering to “Wendung”, we canít reasonably translate this word in “turning” (“retournement”), the latter evoking a little too much the reversal of sadism in masochism. “Wendung” involves, first of all, the concept of “detour” (“tour”), that is bent (“virage”), way round (“detour”) and reverting to (“reviriment”), more than “turning” (“retournement”).

Therefore, FREUDís “Wendung gegen...” means “to return upon the oneís own self” (“retourner vers soi-meme”). There is no idea of auto-agression, rather one of “detour” (“tourner”) libido upon the subjectís own self, which is the essence of narcissism. What FREUD indicates as a second possible drive fate is, no doubt, the one of narcissism, the more so as “Pulsions et destins des pulsion” (1915) is written in the final part of “Pour introduire le narcissisme” (1914).

36) Michaël Balint. Amour primaire et technique psychanalytique. Paris, Payot, 1963.

37) Michaël Balint. Le défaut fondamental. Paris, Payot, 1967.

38) Edmund Bergler (1949). Basic Neurosis. La névrose de base. Régression orale et masochisme psychique. Paris, Payot, 1976.

39) In German, “Halt” means both stop and support, assistance, steadiness, steadfastness, cohesion, solidity...

“Haltobjekt” is the object needed to stop, to stand oneís ground, not to go off the track or to fall down.

40) Michel Foucault. Histoire de la folie à líâge classique. Paris, 10/18, 1961, pp. 302-304. “Madness is just the absence of creative work (oeuvre), the obstinate presence of this absence. It is this central void experienced and measured in all its dimensions which never ends... If we were instead to meet a work of art, there would not be madness. Nevertheless madness is contemporary with a work of art because it at inaugurates the moment of truth, shows its essence.” (puisqu'elle inaugure le temps de sa vérité) �

c 1996-2000 Leo Berlips, JP Berlips & Jens Berlips, Slavick Shibayev