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(lĭbē`dō, –bī`–) [Lat.,=lust], psychoanalytic term used by Sigmund Freud to identify instinctive energy with the sex instinct. For Freud, libido is the generalized sexual energy of which conscious activity is the expression. C. G. Jung used the term synonymously with instinctive energy in general. Many psychiatrists now feel that Freud overemphasized the concept of libido as the determinant of personality development and did not adequately emphasize the results of socializing forces. The term drive is often used instead of libido but without the sexual implications of the latter. See psychoanalysispsychoanalysis,
name given by Sigmund Freud to a system of interpretation and therapeutic treatment of psychological disorders. Psychoanalysis began after Freud studied (1885–86) with the French neurologist J. M.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



one of the basic concepts of psychoanalysis, developed by S. Freud.

According to Freud, the libido is a primarily unconscious drive of a sexual character. Unlike the urge for self-preservation, the libido may be repressed or undergo complex transformation. Freud believed that the libido is localized in different zones of the body during the process of individual development, determining the phases of psychosexual development and the respective changes in the objects of attraction (from autoeroticism to attraction to external objects). Upon encountering an external obstacle, the libido may return to past stages of development, acquiring the form of pathological regression. At the same time, it may turn away from the original goals and find expression in the processes of creativity (sublimation).

In a polemic with Freud, C. G. Jung reexamined the concept of libido. Jung denied the libido an exclusively sexual character, considering it psychic energy generally. Understood in this way, the libido appears in Jung’s theory as a metaphysical principle of the psyche and a basic psychic reality. In Jung’s idealistic treatment, this is an autonomous, closed system, functioning on the basis of the principle of compensation.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Sexual desire.
The sum total of all instinctual forces; psychic energy or drive usually associated with the sexual instinct.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Psychoanal psychic energy emanating from the id
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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