“…an interaction between the intergenerational and the lateral.”*

*Juliet Mitchell, speaking in 2005.

Juliet Mitchell wrote in 1988:

“…The superordinate need of the child is not for pleasure or need gratification, but for an intense relationship with another person… If only painful experiences are provided, the child does not give up looking for pleasurable experiences elsewhere, but seeks pain as a vehicle for interaction with the significant other. It is the contact, not the pleasure which is primary… Painful feelings, self destructive relationships, self-sabotaging situations, are re-created throughout life as vehicles for the perpetuation of early ties to significant others…”

Denise K. Shull writes in Annals of Modern Psychoanalysis, Vol. II, No 1:

“…Freud originally spoke of undesirable repetitions in his 1920 treatise Beyond the Pleasure Principle. He described how some people behave not according to the “pleasure principle” but apparently in response to a “compulsion to repeat:”

“…people all of whose human relationships have the same outcome: such as the benefactor who is abandoned in anger after a time by each of his protégés, however much they may otherwise differ from one another, …or the man whose friendships all end in betrayal by his friend; or the man who time after time in the course of his life raises someone else into a position of great private or public authority and then after a certain interval, himself upsets that authority and replaces him with a new one; or, again, the lover each of whose love affairs with a woman passes through the same phases and reaches the same conclusion” (p. 16).

He went on to say that impulses continually press for discharge and satisfaction, thereby imbuing the compulsion with a biological energy and giving it the life of a demonic force (1920). Patients speak of this force every day…

LaPlanche and Pontalis, respected arbiters of psychoanalytic terminology, define the experiential and psychological “Repetition Compulsion” as follows. “At the level of concrete psychopathology, the compulsion to repeat is an ungovernable process originating in the unconscious. As a result of its action, the subject deliberately places himself in distressing situations, thereby repeating an old experience, but he does not recall this prototype; on the contrary, he has the strong impression that the situation is fully determined by the circumstances of the moment.” (1993, p. 78)…”

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