email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
A Basic Theory of NeuropsychoanalysisA Cursing Brain?A Dream of Undying FameA Map of the MindAfter LacanAgainst AdaptationAgainst FreudAn Anatomy of AddictionAnalytic FreudAndré Green at the Squiggle FoundationAnger, Madness, and the DaimonicAnna FreudAnna Freud: A BiographyApproaching PsychoanalysisAttachment and PsychoanalysisBadiouBecoming a SubjectBefore ForgivingBerlin PsychoanalyticBetween Emotion and CognitionBeyond GenderBeyond SexualityBeyond the Pleasure PrincipleBiology of FreedomBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCarl JungCassandra's DaughterCherishmentConfusion of TonguesContemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third ReichCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesCulture and Conflict in Child and Adolescent Mental HealthDarwin's WormsDesert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Dispatches from the Freud WarsDoes the Woman Exist?Doing Psychoanalysis in TehranDreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDreaming by the BookEnergy Psychology InteractiveEqualsErrant SelvesEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFed with Tears -- Poisoned with MilkFeminism and Its DiscontentsForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFour Lessons of PsychoanalysisFratricide in the Holy LandFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud at 150Freud's AnswerFreud's WizardFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFrom Classical to Contemporary PsychoanalysisFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGoing SaneHans BellmerHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHate and Love in Psychoanalytical InstitutionsHatred and ForgivenessHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHidden MindsHistory of ShitHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisImagination and Its PathologiesImagine There's No WomanIn Freud's TracksIn SessionIn the Floyd ArchivesIntimaciesIntimate RevoltIrrationalityIs Oedipus Online?Jacques LacanJacques Lacan and the Freudian Practice of PsychoanalysisJung and the Making of Modern PsychologyJung Stripped BareKilling FreudLacanLacanLacanLacan and Contemporary FilmLacan at the SceneLacan For BeginnersLacan in AmericaLacan TodayLacan's Seminar on AnxietyLawLearning from Our MistakesLove's ExecutionerMad Men and MedusasMale Female EmailMelanie KleinMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMental SlaveryMind to MindMixing MindsMoral StealthMourning and ModernityMovies and the MindMurder in ByzantiumNew Studies of Old VillainsNocturnesNoir AnxietyOn Being Normal and Other DisordersOn BeliefOn IncestOn Not Being Able to SleepOn the Freud WatchOn the Way HomeOpen MindedOpera's Second DeathOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhenomology & Lacan on Schizophrenia, After the Decade of the BrainPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsychoanalysisPsychoanalysisPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and NeurosciencePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychoanalysis as Biological SciencePsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis in a New LightPsychoanalysis in FocusPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy As PraxisPutnam CampQuestions for FreudRe-Inventing the SymptomReading Seminar XXReinventing the SoulRelational Theory and the Practice of PsychotherapyRelationalityRepressed SpacesRevolt, She SaidSecrets of the SoulSerious ShoppingSex on the CouchSexuationSigmund FreudSoul Murder RevisitedSpectral EvidenceSpirit, Mind, and BrainStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherSubjectivity and OthernessSubstance Abuse As SymptomSurrealist Painters and PoetsTaboo SubjectsTalk is Not EnoughThe Arabic FreudThe Art of the SubjectThe Brain and the Inner WorldThe Brain, the Mind and the SelfThe Cambridge Companion to LacanThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Clinical LacanThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Condition of MadnessThe Couch and the TreeThe Cruelty of DepressionThe Dissociative Mind in PsychoanalysisThe Dreams of InterpretationThe Examined LifeThe Fall Of An IconThe Freud EncyclopediaThe Freud FilesThe Freud WarsThe Fright of Real TearsThe Future of PsychoanalysisThe Gift of TherapyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Knotted SubjectThe Last Good FreudianThe Late Sigmund FreudThe Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto RankThe Mind According to ShakespeareThe Mystery of PersonalityThe Mythological UnconsciousThe Neuropsychology of the UnconsciousThe New PsychoanalysisThe Power of FeelingsThe Psychoanalytic MovementThe Psychoanalytic MysticThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Revolt of the PrimitiveThe Seminar of Moustafa SafouanThe Sense and Non-Sense of RevoltThe Shortest ShadowThe Social History of the UnconsciousThe Surface EffectThe Symmetry of GodThe Tragedy of the SelfThe Trainings of the PsychoanalystThe UnsayableThe World of PerversionTherapeutic ActionTherapy's DelusionsThis Incredible Need to BelieveThoughts Without A ThinkerTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTrauma and Human ExistenceTraumatizing TheoryUmbr(a)Unconscious knowing and other essays in psycho-philosophical analysisUnderstanding Dissidence and Controversy in the History of PsychoanalysisUnderstanding PsychoanalysisUnfree AssociationsWalking HeadsWay Beyond FreudWhat Does a Woman Want?What Freud Really MeantWhen the Body SpeaksWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Whose Freud?Why Psychoanalysis?Wilhelm ReichWinnicottWinnicott On the ChildWisdom Won from IllnessWittgenstein on Freud and FrazerWittgenstein Reads FreudWorld, Affectivity, TraumaZizek

Related Topics
Beyond the Pleasure PrincipleReview - Beyond the Pleasure Principle
by Sigmund Freud
Broadview Press, 2011
Review by Michael Larson
Mar 13th 2012 (Volume 16, Issue 11)

Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle introduces us to the theory of repetition compulsion and the death drive. Though a relatively short work it is regarded as notoriously difficult. The text has been both a magnet for critique and a point of inspiration for psychoanalysts and philosophers alike. It is Freud at his most speculative and philosophical, even as he coyly disavows any debt to philosophy. This edition of the text allows us to explore in greater detail the roots of the work while exploring the various directions psychoanalysis and continental philosophy have taken in responding to Freud's text. The edition boasts a new translation by Gregory C. Richter and is fitted out with a wide array of supplemental texts in the appendices. Editor Todd Dufresne wants this edition to stand as a call to think "about psychoanalysis as a cross-discipline, about the 'theory of psychoanalysis,' about its complex relationship with philosophy" (28) and the efforts of Continental thinkers to explore their own interpretive approaches in the intellectual terrain Freud laid out.

The supplemental material is indeed abundant.  In addition to a chronology on Freud's life and publications, an editor's introduction and translator's preface, there are 2 appendices to the text which bring the page count to nearly 400 (BPP itself takes up just around 1/8 of the space here).

Appendix A features other works by Freud which connect with the themes of BPP amounting to 38 pages of supplemental text starting with the period in which BPP was in preparation.  The appendix features excerpts from "The Uncanny," The Ego and the Id, "The Economic Problem of Masochism," "A Note about the 'Mystic Writing Pad," Civilization and Its Discontents and the 1937 essay "Analysis Terminable and Interminable."  Appendix B extends over 230 pages and features 25 entries, the first 4 of which are reference points for Freud (Empedocles, Plato, Shopenhauer, Nietzsche) the rest are responses to Freud beginning with Walter Benjamin in 1939. The texts included reveal general trends in reading and re-interpreting Freud within Psychoanalysis (Klein, Fromm, Lacan, Laplanche), with a variety of responses to Freud's metapsychology and the theory of the death drive.

Amongst the philosophical excerpts included here are 2 entries from Jacques Derrida, one of which is a fascinating examination of the performative aspect of Freud's writing (from Derrida's own difficult work The Post Card). Derrida's work treats "pure pleasure and pure reality" as "ideal limits... fictions." Between these ideal points is a play of différance. There are also two entries from Gilles Deleuze, one from his collaboration with rebel psychoanalyst Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, but I found even more interesting the extended excerpt from Deleuze's 1967 work on Masochism. Deleuze takes up from Freud's remarks on masochism in BPP. Deleuze highlights that what Freud is concerned with in BPP is not the exceptions to the pleasure principle, but an excess which transcends the principle. It is a question of foundations and "the 'ground-less' from which the ground itself emerged." (241) Deleuze's analysis of perversion in sadism and masochism addresses the implementation of "pain" as an act of grounding, which in and of itself is not significant. He writes, "Eros is desexualized and humiliated for the sake of a resexualized Thanatos. In sadism and masochism there is no mysterious link between pain and pleasure; the mystery lies in the desexualization process which consolidates repetition at the opposite pole to pleasure... pain should be regarded as an effect only." (247) The last word in this edition is given to Slavoj Žižek who contends that the  "Freudian death drive has nothing whatsoever to do with the craving for self-annihilation... it is, on the contrary, ... eternal life itself... an uncanny excess of life, for an 'undead' urge which persists beyond the (biological) cycle of life and death, of generation and corruption. The ultimate lesson of psychoanalysis is that human life is never 'just life': humans are not simply alive, they are possessed by the strange drive to enjoy life in excess, passionately attached to a surplus which sticks out and derails the ordinary run of things." (375) 

I have highlighted the above points for they get to the heart of how Freud's work opens up psychoanalysis to its own un-grounding. The territory revealed is genuinely ontological. Ultimately, psychoanalysis cannot from this point do away with metapsychology. The collection of writings gathered here cover a great breadth and demonstrate quite clearly the importance of the ideas proposed in Freud's Beyond.

Finally, I should note that  have found Richter's translation to be quite readable, perhaps as much as can be expected given BPP's near universally accepted status as a "difficult" text. Any difficulties one encounters here are likely on the side of following the thread of Freud's thought (particularly in the biologic connections that Freud draws heavily upon). The translator's praface offers much detail on key terminological choices and particular translations which Richter has decided to employ from past translations and comments on certain issues of concern with the "Standard Edition" translations.

© 2012 Michael Larson

 Michael Larson, M.A. Instructor at Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA. Primary interests: Continental philosophy, Foucault, Deconstruction, Social and Political thought, Modern and Contemporary art.


Welcome to Metapsychology. We feature over 8200 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716