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Libido: the psychoanalytic law of attraction

 erotic dance
Libido–in short, it is a type of energy associated with both the mental and the biological drives.  It is one of the two drives
upon which psychoanalysis was founded and continues to this day, as the foundational mechanisms that are responsible
for piloting sentient beings forward.  It operates in tandem with the aggressive drive also known as the death drive.
Life is busy holding itself up until it can no longer hold it self up and the decompensation process sets in.  In biology and
physics the terms anabolism and catabolism are the words that most reflect what Freud and subsequent drive theorists had in mind
when proposing the dual drive theory.
For our purposes in this essay my concentration will be on the libidinal drive.  Not only was it the first drive to be identified
by Freud, but it is essentially the kernel of his thinking that led to his seminal work, “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”.  In beyond
the pleasure principle, Freud maps out the metaphor of the mind that we all recognize, the ego, the id and the super-ego.
In many ways we are seeing neurobiology catch up with what Freud induced from his observations of his early patients.  He had
earlier, in his writings said:  we will have to content ourselves with these subjective findings until chemistry gives us a more definitive
answer.
O.K. enough of the back ground….libido is the central concept on which psychoanalysis applies its concepts in research, philosophy
and clinical work.
Libido is desire.
Desire is also a foundational concept in new age philosophies. The most recognized of these theories is The Law of Attraction.  In the Law of Attraction
we are told that allowing ourselves to want what we want guides us to that wish.  It says, or implies, that there is a kind of personality
to “The Universe”.  This Universe is said to listen to our desires if we are sincere and we have the capacity to stay focused on what we want.
This is both similar and different from the analytic view of libido.  It is similar in as much as it requires the desire to be the focus
of the mind field; but it is different in as much as analysis does not claim that there is a Universe listening.  Instead psychoanalysis
is a theory of the mind that is and remains contained in the mind.  When we emotionally “cathex” with an object of desire, it is the
representation of that object of desire in the mind that is the object or the aim of the mental energy.  By infusing desire onto something
that is “Other” than us, we begin a process of aiming for that object.  Depending on the strength of the cathexis, another words on the
importance of the object, we begin a process by which we come to obtain the desired object.
To an alligator it might be the the lazy brown fox crouched among ferns, to a modern human it might be a new granite countertop.  We
want, we aim, and we go for it.
A cathexis is not to be confused with the other Freudian concept “catharsis.”  A catharsis is an expelling of energy that had been attached
to an idea or an emotion.  The catharsis happens when the object is no longer infused with emotional content.  We could almost use the word “relief”
as a substitute for catharsis.  An important insight that changes how we perceive something can be said to be a catharsis.  For example, a year after
a loved one has died, one can reasonably presume that the death of that person will not be as occupying or as charged a thought as it was when
the death first occurred.   Catharsis has to do with the amount or quality of affect that was released. Cathexis has to to with the amount of mental
and emotional energy that was infused into the event.
There is speculation about what Freud meant.  In fact when Freud could use a common word rather than a scientific term to describe
something he was witnessing he generally would use that word.  When we want something our mind is usually occupied or charged
with that desire.  Some Freud scholars seem to think that the word occupy or charge would have been closer to the idea he was conveying.
One of the things that has seriously changed in the last one-hundred years has to do with psychotherapies becoming less invested in the
disease model of neurosis, and instead has become occupied with a wellness model.  That is, most people today see a therapist with the
idea that some thinking need to be adjusted or some emotions need to be examined and understood.  At the time that Freud was writing
neurosis was seen as a mental disease that needed amelioration rather than remediation.
Nonetheless, Freud’s writings at the turn of the 20th century were seminal in the manner in which they came about.  Freud never said
do psychoanalysis like this.  Freud said that every psychoanalysis was unique in as much as the discoveries made by the patient and the doctor
were unique to that patient in that setting.  What was being looked at–the patient, was as likely to be seen from as many perspectives as
their were doctors doing the examining.  Each psychoanalysis was a new research project undertaken with a fresh new look because
no two individuals presented their problems with the same amount of emotional cathexis.  Single case study rather than statistical studies
remains the underpinning of modern psychoanalytic research.
It does not follow that if your house burned down when you were a child that therefore you would develop a “my-house-burned-down” syndrome.
Each child brought their own emotional charge or content to the event.  For one child a scaring trauma might happen and for another
it might not even register as an important event.
Central to Freudian thinking and central to The Law of Attraction is this concept of emotional cathexis.  This process of desiring is the
process of becoming invested in a particular outcome that we are wanting to attract.  It is not so far removed from [John 15:7],
“ask what ye will and it shall be done”.  We are looking at a convergence, a convergence of thought from more than one perspective pointing
to the same outcome.
When we pray, when we infuse libido or when we allow the universe to give us what we need we are following some kind of prescription
for truth.  We might hear this concept in a more Americanized way, “you have to work hard to be successful,” or in mindful way, “breath,
listen to your inner breath, breath with your heart.”  There are a multitude of methods and “secrets” and miracles that might get us
to this desired outcome.
In the end we are looking western civilization in the face and going against the grain of social civility.  Because regardless of what
method, secret or theory is employed you will need to selfishly put yourself in the number one position in order to accomplish getting
what you want.  Libido will have to infuse your wishes so that they can be aggressively pursued.  But for those of you reading who are
saying, “but selfishness is a bad thing, isn’t it?”  I want to say, “No, It is not a bad thing.”  The art and science of a a successful life
begins with the centrality of your own soul, your own self.  There, in the inner-sanctum, in the temple that is the manifestation that
is your mind, is where you will find the capacity to have the strength to place yourself in the number one position.  And you will
be able to do this because when you there in the depth of your inner world you are in the presence of truth and wisdom and knowledge–your own..
From that humanistically special place, you want what is best for you and you have no competition with the fact that your
neighbor wants what is best for himself/herself.  To Place oneself in the primary position only means that you are placing
your energy into your own vitality.  What we manifest from our own vitalities is always for the greater good.  Creativity is not an
act of aggression on someone else’s person.
In conclusion libido that perverted, sexually oriented concept is the seed of our humanity.  It is the drive that elevates pleasure and
comfort as a welcomed and desired state of being.  The wildness and primitive nature of our sexual urges are the first genuine sensations
that move us forward.  Like in the manner that a newborn infant placed on its mothers belly will navigate its mouth toward the breast,
the new born awakening that desire is nature’s way of guiding us to vitality, will navigate our wishes into manifested realities.  This
is the psychoanalytic law of attraction.

 

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