On psychoanalysis and non‐linear dynamics: The paradigm of bifurcation

Beatrice Priel, Gabriel Schreiber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Some of Freud's main theoretical conceptualizations drew on metaphors from 19th century physics. However, though the physics of Freud's era was based on deterministic Newtonian mechanics and equilibrium thermodynamics, his descriptions of the dynamics of instincts, therapeutic change, and even transference, were far beyond this model. Freud's dynamic description of psychic development evokes contemporary theories of irreversible, far‐from‐equilibrium thermodynamics and non‐linear dynamics. The present paper focuses on bifurcation theory, which offers a paradigm for the investigation of unpredictable but deterministic phenomena; this paradigm sheds a retroactive light on the classical psychoanalytical conceptualizations of complemental series, repetition compulsion, transference and cure. 1994 The British Psychological Society

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-218
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Medical Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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