The Pleasure Principle and the Death Drive

  • Robert Samuels


This chapter examines Freud’s misunderstood theory of the pleasure principle to analyze why people are driven to remove themselves from tension and conflict by repressing their own sense of guilt, shame, responsibility, and freedom. Freud posits that the core drive of human beings is to use as little energy as possible by avoiding all stimulation, and this type of psychic death leads to lives dominated by addiction and makes it difficult for us to address important interpersonal and social problems. In fact, I argue that the biggest threat facing humanity is our ability to derive instant pleasure from new technologies, media, and drugs.


Pleasure principle Freud Drugs Virtual reality Repression 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Samuels
    • 1
  1. 1.University of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

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