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Eros and Thanatos

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In Greek mythology, Thanatos was the angel of death, whereas Eros meant “intimate love.” However, Sigmund Freud claimed that human beings have an instinct for life which he called Eros, and an opposing drive towards death, which otherwise was named Thanatos.

Eros and Thanatos and Freud

Eros and ThanatosAlthough Freud’s theories are always far more complex than can be conveyed in a brief survey, the Eros drive is the human instinct for love, sex and life that pushes individuals as well as the entire species, towards continuation. Thanatos, on the other hand, can be seen as an aspect of aggression that acknowledges the inevitability of the human condition and has been called the “death drive.” In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud speculated that humans were driven by more than just pleasure, and that human beings are driven by an unconscious force to eventually die. Freud later came to believe that this self-destructive instinct was manifested in society through aggression.

internal Struggle: Eros and Thanatos


Eros and Thanatos are two sides of the same coin, and Freud deliberately characterized existence as the struggle between these two opposite forces. However, many later scientists have criticized Freud, nothing that everything he described to the death drive can be seen as simpler processes, such as bias or risk calculation. In other words, an individual uses drugs not out of some long-range drive towards death, but due to a more immediate pleasure-seeking desire.

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