Economic Model of Psychoanalysis

The economic model of psychoanalysis brings a new perspective on personality, one that focuses on our energy and our innermost impulses.


The economic model of psychoanalysis brings a new perspective on personality, one that focuses on our energy and our innermost impulses.

Personality, as a variable that influences behavior, is quite studied. Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, approached it from different perspectives. Today we will talk about one of them: the economic model of psychoanalysis.

Have you ever heard of libido, psychic energy and drives? These are concepts that, sometimes, we use without specifying their definition or origin. Freud took them into account to consolidate his economic theory of personality.

Explore with us this model of psychoanalysis. You will know another perspective of our personality, you will see what concepts are related to this model, how energy works in our psyche and what other models make up Freudian personality theory.

What is the economic model of psychoanalysis?

It is about the field of personality, from a Freudian perspective, which deals with the functioning of energy in our psyche. It emerged thanks to the scientific and philosophical spirit of the father of psychoanalysis.

Sigmund Freud had the hypothesis that our psychic processes are related to the circulation and distribution of energy. According to this model, the energy of our psychic apparatus will be susceptible to increase, decrease or to be equivalent.

Then, according to this theory, the psychic apparatus is responsible for the transformation of energy, the postponement of the discharge and the elaboration of experiences. Therefore, this perspective can be described as: all those charges, downloads, overloads and equivalences that are mobilized in our psychic apparatus.

Concepts associated with the economic model

There are various concepts associated with this Freudian topic. Let’s see them:

  • Psychic elaboration. That is, the transformation of energy.
  • Drive. It is the force that drives us to satisfy internal tensions, which should not necessarily be of a sexual nature.
  • Cathexia. The ability we have to direct our drive energy towards an object or representation. Then, they would be discharges of psychic energy. This according to Freud would be the origin of the latexes, that is to say that tendency to satisfy our needs seeking pleasure.
  • Libido. It is the basis of the dynamism of the mind and psychosexual development. Although, it goes beyond the sexual, it is that energy that comes from our drives and that directs our behavior. Therefore, it can be related to everything that gives us pleasure, for example, eating.

Although the aforementioned are the best known concepts about the economic model of psychoanalysis. Freud made a great tour of the drives, in fact, he divided them into:

  • Life drive. These are the impulses that motivate us not to give up pleasure, in favor of survival and well-being.
  • Death drive. This is the tendency towards self-destruction, but being well managed can be assertive.

Now, this model was based on the theories developed from 1914 to 1920 approximately, especially in the books: Beyond the principle of pleasure and Introduction to the narcissism of Sigmund Freud.

Other models

To establish his theory of personality, Freud formulated various models, also called topics. One of them is the economic one, let’s see the others:

  • Topographic. It is a perspective in which there are different levels of consciousness. The unconscious, the preconscious and the conscious. Each of these levels is associated with a part of the iceberg that is submerged, that is, they are associated with a metaphor.
  • Dynamic. This model is related to the impulses that seek gratification and those that go after inhibition through defense mechanisms.
  • Genetic. It is the theory that proposes that our psychosexual development is thanks to the search for gratification in the erogenous zones. There are different stages: oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital.
  • Structural model. He proposes that our mind is separated by different instances and that each of them acts on one level, thus forming a personality structure.

Although there are these divisions in Freudian personality theory, it does not mean that each topic acts separately. In fact, in psychoanalysis all concepts complement each other.

The economic model of psychoanalysis contributed to the conception of the flow of energy in our mind, and how diverse pulSions tend to satisfy our instincts and others do not. In addition, he realized how these energies are transformed in our inner world. It consisted and continues to be today: a revolutionary way to appreciate our mind.