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In psychology, psychic energy, or psychological energy, is the energy by which the workof the personality is performed.[1] The concept of mental energies moving or displacing between various adjoined, conscious and unconscious, mental systems was developed predominantly in Sigmund Freud's 1923 The Ego and the Id. In psychoanalytic theory the source of psychic energy is the id.


The concept of psychic energy, or psychological energy, was developed in the field of psychodynamics, i.e. the thermodynamicstudy of mental systems, and was born with the 1874 publication of a work by German scientist Ernst von Brucke who supposed that all living organisms are energy-systems governed by the principle of the conservation of energy. During this year, at the University of Vienna, Brucke was also coincidentally the supervisor for first-year medical student Sigmund Freud who naturally adopted this new “dynamic” physiology. During these years, Freud argued that both the first and second law of thermodynamics apply to mental process, and based on this logic posited the existence of mental energy or psychic energy set to function according to these laws. In 1928, Carl Jung published a seminal essay entitled: On Psychic Energy. Later, the theory of psychodynamics and the concept of "psychic energy" was developed further by those such as Alfred Adler and Melanie Klein.


According to Carl Jung, psychic energy cannot be measured quantitatively in terms of formulae as forms of physical energy can be. Psychic energy expresses itself in the form either of actual or of potential forces which perform psychological work. Perceiving, remembering, thinking, feeling, wishing, willing, attending, and striving are psychological activities just as breathing, digesting, and perspiring are physiological activities. Potential forces of the personality are such things as predispositions, latent tendencies, and inclinations. These potential or latent forces may be activated at any time.

Current views

Presently, in psychology, the theory of psychic energy is now, in most circles, considered rather incorrect or obsolete. The term, however, is referenced or referred to quite frequently in an associative sort of way. While of course brains obey the laws of thermodynamics in their chemical processes, the modern scientific consensus has ruled against an energetic model of emotion and thought.[How to reference and link to summary or text] For example, anger doesn't necessarily get "bottled up" like a pressurized gas.

Essentially, the original concepts of mental energies, i.e. the work attributed to various human psychological activities, was developed and presented by Freud and Jung during the years approximately 1880 to 1950. The article is meant to describe an historical concept.

See also


  1. ^ Hall, Calvin S.; Nordby, Vernon J. (1999). A Primer of Jungian Psychology, New York: Meridian. ISBN 0452011868.
  2. Jung, C.G. (1960). On the Nature of the Psyche, Princeton: Princiton University Press. ISBN 0691017514.

External links

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