Auto-repugnancy: In-between Freud’s “Pleasure Principle”

Penelope Deutscher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A number of philosophers have put pressure on the seeming binarism of the life and death drives in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Continuing this line of interpretation, this paper first focuses on Freud’s appeal to biology and biologism by arguing for it to be understood as a complex deployment of the resources of analogy. Foregrounding the latter leads to an understanding of animacy, consciousness and psychic life in terms of forms of self-repugnant auto-irritation whose scope encompasses the emergence of both the life and death drives (an auto-differentiation referred to by Jacques Derrida as “lifedeath”). The paper concludes with some consequences for the status and scale of futurist reproductive interest, as described by Freud.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)518-536
Number of pages19
JournalPsychoanalysis, Culture & Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • analogy
  • biologism
  • death drive
  • Freud
  • pleasure principle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Cultural Studies
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Auto-repugnancy: In-between Freud’s “Pleasure Principle”'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this