– Freud’s terms for the two opposing fundamental psychological forces. Freud started out with a monism based solely on eros, a creative force that of course is responsible for not only erotic love but also art and human creativity in all of its manifestations, but as Freud matured past the simplistic and untenable monism of his youth, he changed his mind, as he contemplated the unbelievable carnage of WWI that could not be interpreted as some manifestation of eros, and of course the carnage of WWI paled in comparison with that in WWII.
As far as I can tell, eros and thanatos, though real enough as psychological phenomena, are not involved in a universal zero sum law, because neither has any real substance, neither is substantial (unlike positive and negative electrical charge, e.g., which in both annihilation experiments and pair production experiments obey a zero sum law; so far physicists have been unable to create or destroy an excess of positive or negative charge, though I have predicted that they will, as soon as they learn to send the excess of charge into an interpenetrated parallel universe, the twin or triplet of our universe, which holds the excess of antimatter and negative gravitational energy, while our universe holds the excess of matter and positive energy [mass]).
But eros and thanatos do seem to approximately zero each other out in the world of the human psyche.
Consider that no one disputes man’s will to live and this is a manifestation of eros in action. But I contend that nearly all human deaths are a form of suicide, self-inflicted wounds, mostly of the slow variety, but some that are very quick.
In my own family, for example, I have already lost three members of the original six and I contend that all three have been suicides. My two sisters would doubtless disagree with me. My opinions are statistical outliers. I am probably wrong, but possibly right.
Consider deaths from cigarette smoking (cancer, emphysema, COPD, etc.), from most other forms of cancer (current estimate from oncologists: 80% or so are preventable with lifestyle alterations), from heart disease, from heavy drinking, from drug overdoses, from complications of type II diabetes, from obesity itself, from reckless behaviors, including reckless driving – all of these deaths are all but preventable by our making a little effort to preserve ourselves, and we tend not to make the little efforts.
These deaths are from self-inflicted wounds, the slow variety of suicide, Freudian thanatos (death wish) in action.
Suicide is, has always been, and may always be, the #1 “cause” of human death.
My opinions are outliers, but are outliers really so hard to accept?