In Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic thought, the libido is a form of mental energy stemming from the Id. The libido is associated with erotic areas and corresponding stages of psychosexual development–e.g. oral, anal, phallic, genital.
Freud originally conceived of the libido in terms of sexual energy but later expanded the idea to refer to a general life instinct, which he called Eros.
The concept of the libido is usually thought to be a result of Freud’s unique genius but in reality, he had much help from his psychoanalytic pupil and collaborator, Karl Abraham.
Freud’s equally gifted pupil, C. G. Jung, extended the meaning of the libido to refer to creative energy that must be allowed to flow from unconsciousness to consciousness. If the libido is not permitted appropriate channels of expression,the result may be depression or uncontrolled violence. Key to this process is the symbolization of the libido’s power.
Libido can never be apprehended except in a definite form; that is to say, it is identical with fantasy-images. And we can only release it from the grip of the unconscious by bringing up the corresponding fantasy-images.[The Technique of Differentiation,” CW 7, par. 345.]¹
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