Discovering our drive for destructivity
When it comes to basic instincts we generally talk about those drives that contribute in our survival. These are so common that we tend to explain gender differences, overweight, competitiveness …etc. with the survival basic instinct.
It is usually not questionable for us that we have an inner drive to grow, to create, and to maintain a genetic or cultural legacy. So we have a positive inner drive to live and survive as an individual or as the human race.
But then again we have many things in our life that are not growing, things that do not lead anywhere. Why people stuck in vicious circles, why do they have addictions, why do we chose destroying ourselves instead of growing?
The answer we all know but we try to forget: next to the survival we also have a motion to die. Freud called the death drive Thanatos. We can add all the negatives to this notion: death, illness, pain, murder, loss and destructivity. Thanatos is always working in us since we were born, simply because we belong to the nature, there is a part of us that wants the die.
We have trendy philosophies about positive thinking and we have that common sense that the ideal is to focus on development and growing. Instead of accepting the nature of death we are afraid of it and deny our death instinct. As a result: our life is much more complicated than it should be: the death drive is supressed and it expresses itself indirectly.
When we sit on a plane and there is a turbulence, we start to feel anxiety and worry about our own death. And not the plane crash kills us, but the stress that we experience during the flight. The negative stress is the expression of the death drive.
Or when we overdoing exercise, we actually make harm to our body but with a belief that we will be healthier.
We often have thoughts like:
“I eat/drink this because it is healthy” (and as a conclusion I will live longer).
“I study and work hard to have a better income and be a better male/female on the market” (and as a result I can have relationship and kids- genetic survival, and allow myself a better healthcare- individual survival)
We never really say:
“I drink this coke to fulfil my death drive.” or “I am addicted to cigarettes because that contributes in my death.” We supress these thoughts and we say “There are many smokers who live a long life” or “I am not gonna die from some light coke every now and then”.
I would be surprised from statements like “I have stress at work to satisfy my desire to death.” or “I overeat in order to make physical problems in my body.”
We have a death drive that craves for destructivity. We cannot supress it, because it will express itself either way. The question is how can we use this instinct for our benefit?
-to be continued-
As a summary
1. We die
2. We have a death drive, and it works deep within us.
3. The death drive has to be satisfied: we consciously or unconsciously choose activities and situations that fulfil this drive.
4. The more we supress our death drive, the more likely we are fulfilling it unconsciously.
5. If we are aware of our death drive, we have a conscious choice about how we want to fulfil it.