Repetition Compulsion

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

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In his essay “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” (1920) Freud relates how he observed a boy of around 36 months who had just mastered a few words and basic sounds throwing a wooden reel out of his cot and exclaiming “fort” [“gone”], and then reeling it in and exclaiming “da” [“there”]. The episode was often repeated, as was his habit of throwing toys away into a corner or under a bed, then struggling to get them back. Other parents have often noted similar behaviour as children around this age toss a favoured toy out of their cots and then wail miserably until it is returned to them. The “fort – da” episode, as it is now often called, was interpreted by Freud as a game whereby the child gained mastery over loss: the wooden reel or favourite toy stood for the mother…

440 words

Citation: Clark, Robert. "Repetition Compulsion". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 October 2005 [, accessed 25 May 2024.]

947 Repetition Compulsion 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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