According to Freud, the death drive operates alongside the life drive (Eros), which aims to preserve and propagate life. While the life drive is associated with the pleasure principle, the death drive is driven by the repetition compulsion. This compulsion leads individuals to engage in behaviours that are not pleasurable and may even be self-destructive.
The death drive can manifest in various ways, such as risk-taking behaviours, self-sabotage, aggression, and the attraction to violent or dangerous situations. It also plays a role in the unconscious desire for the dissolution of the self, which can be seen in certain forms of self-destructive behaviours, addiction, and even suicidal tendencies.
It is important to note that the death drive is a theoretical construct and should not be taken as a literal desire for death. Instead, it represents a complex and often contradictory aspect of human nature, highlighting the intricate interplay between life and death forces within the psyche.
Freud’s concept of the death drive continues to be debated and explored in contemporary psychoanalytic theory, as it offers insights into the darker and more complex aspects of human motivation and behaviour.