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Libido


An Alternative Theory on Libido

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, broke with Freud's view of the libido by rejecting the idea that sexual experiences during infancy are the principal determinants of adult emotional problems.

Jung developed an alternative theory of the libido that viewed the will to live rather than sexual desire as the strongest drive. Jung emphasized the distinction between introverted and extroverted personality types.

Extroversion typifies individuals whose attention is strongly directed (but not exclusively) outward from themselves to other people and to the world around them.

Extroverts tend to feel comfortable in social situations and tend to be gregarious.

Introversion labels the opposite characteristics, including directing attention inward toward internal processes and thoughts. Introverts tend to be self-reliant, introspective, thoughtful and comparatively uncomfortable in large social groups. Jung used the term libido to label the mental energy responsible for creating and sustaining introversion/extroversion. He did not believe individuals were strictly introverted or extroverted, but tended to mix these qualities in varying amounts.

Many contemporary psychologists view libido as a basic human potential that, while rooted in human biology (e.g., hormones), is shaped largely by culture and experience.

In other words, the basic human drive to reproduce and the biologically based potential to derive pleasure from behaviors associated with physical contact (e.g., nerve endings in the skin and mucous membranes) are given shape and form by one's experiences growing up in a particular family within a particular society. How sexual motivations are structured, and through which acts sexual drives are fulfilled, as well as whether certain behaviors are labeled and avoided as inappropriate, are determined primarily by these social influences.

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute


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