Term of Art: Repetition Compulsion

“Repetition compulsion: In psychoanalysis, a type of compulsion characterized by a tendency to place oneself in dangerous or distressing situations that repeat similar experiences from the past. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) introduced in 1914 in an article on ‘Remembering, Repeating, and Working-Through’ (Standard Edition, XII, pp. 147-56) and discussed it at length in his book Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920). In analysis, the transference often contains elements that involve recreations of past conflicts with parents and other family members. Also called a compulsion to repeat.”

Excerpted from: Colman, Andrew M., ed. Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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