Psychic Representative (International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis)
Sigmund Freud used the term psychic representativei>psychische Repräsentanz, the expression of an instinct in mental lifelmost synonymously with Triebrepräsentanz, or "instinctual representative." The distinction seems to be that the latter term emphasizes the thing that is expressed (the instinct), whereas the former emphasizes the process of expression. In fact, this possible discrepancy raises the problem of the instinct as a "frontier-concept" between the psychic and the somatic. Controversies over this point have pit authors who have attempted to dispense with this notion and its uncertainties, such as Jean Laplanche (1987/1989) and Daniel Widlöcher (1986), against others who, like André Green (1995, 1997), have vigorously defended its position within the metapsychological edifice and who attempt to specify its status.
It was in the "metapsychological" articles of 1915 ("Instincts and Their Vicissitudes," "Repression," and "The Unconscious") that Freud posed this question the most clearly, by defining two components of this expression of the somatic in the psyche: the "ideational representative" and the "quota of affect." However, he had already outlined the issue as early as 1895, in the "Project for a Scientific Psychology," and above all in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), to which he substantially added in 1915 based on his then current thinking. He later reformulated these issues in his second theories of the instincts in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) and The Ego and the Id (1923).
See also: Drive/instinct; Ethology and psychoanalysis; Ideational representative; Instinctual representative; Neurotic defenses; Physical pain/psychical pain; Pictogram; Primal repression; Quantitative/qualitative; Quota of affect; Repressed; Repression; "Repression"; Unconscious fantasy.
Freud, Sigmund. (1905d). Three essays on the theory of sexuality. SE, 7: 123-243.
. (1915c). Instincts and their vicissitudes. SE, 14: 109-140.
. (1915d). Repression. SE, 14: 141-158.
. (1915e). The unconscious. SE, 14: 159-204.
Freud. Sigmund. (1920g). Beyond the pleasure principle. SE, 18: 1-64.
. (1923b). The ego and the id. SE, 19: 1-66.
. (1950c ). Project for a scientific psychology. SE, 1: 281-387.
Green, André. (1995). Propédeutique. La métapsychologie revisitée. Paris: L'Or d'Atalante.
. (1997). Les chaînes d'os. Paris: Odile Jacob.
Laplanche, Jean. (1989). New foundations for psychoanalysis (David Macey, Trans.). Oxford: Blackwell. (Original work published in 1987)
Widlöcher, Daniel. (1986). Métapsychologie du sens. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.