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The Death Instinct: “Remorseless Law of Nature” or Metaphor?

posted Dec 21, 2020, 6:41 AM by Houston Psychoanalytic Society   [ updated Feb 2, 2021, 9:39 AM ]

Invited Evening Lecture
The Death Instinct:
“Remorseless Law of Nature” or Metaphor?
Presented by Hannah S. Decker, PhD, Historian
Thursday, January 21, 2021
7:00PM – 9:00PM CST

Zoom Presentation
*Pre-Registration required for Zoom invitation

Registration Fees (CEUs included)
Members: Free
Non-Members: $50

This presentation is a wide investigation of many topics relating to Freud’s theory that there is a powerful destructive and annihilating instinct that rivals the libido, or Eros. When Freud first proposed a death instinct on biological, psychological, and even philosophical grounds, he called it a “speculation.” But as tragedy piled on tragedy and trauma on trauma, this initial speculation hardened in his mind into an inescapable, inevitable law.

  1. Explain why and how Sigmund Freud came to formulate his theory of a Death Instinct.
  2. Describe why and how, after rejecting it for many decades, psychoanalysts are finding the concept of a death instinct clinically and culturally useful.

Hannah S. Decker, PhD is a history professor at the University of Houston and an honorary faculty member at the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies in Houston. She earned her PhD at Columbia University and completed a fellowship in the history of psychiatry at Cornell Medical School. Her research has focused primarily on the history of Germany, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis. Dr. Decker served as consultant to the Library of Congress for an exhibit on Sigmund Freud and to PBS for a TV series on the thought of C. S. Lewis and Freud. Dr. Decker's publications include the books Freud in Germany: Revolution and Reaction in Science (1977, International Universities Press) and Freud, Dora, and Vienna 1900 (1991, Free Press). In 2014, Dr. Decker received a Special Presidential Commendation from the American Psychiatric Association for her book The Making of DSM-III: A Diagnostic Manual's Conquest of American Psychiatry (2013, Oxford University Press).
Houston Psychoanalytic Society
1302 Waugh Dr. #276, Houston, TX 77019
(713) 429-5810
This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of American Psychoanalytic Association, Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, and Houston Psychoanalytic Society. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 2 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters of this CME program have any relevant financial relationships to disclose.

HPS, through co-sponsorship with the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, offers approved CEs for social workers, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists.