Definition of death instinct in US English:

death instinct


  • An innate desire for self-annihilation, thought to be manifest in the conservative and regressive tendency of the psyche to reduce tension.

    Compare with life instinct
    • ‘So it's suddenly obvious why Freud might want to connect repetition with that utterly final peacemaker, the death instinct.’
    • ‘Segal describes a psychic pain involving the expression of the death instinct.’
    • ‘The conflict between libido and ego-instincts becomes a conflict between eros and the death instinct.’
    • ‘Conversely, the death instinct originates with the birth of the human being and is an integral part of development, as has been pointed out by Freud and Klein.’
    • ‘Freud considered that aggression was derived from the death instinct being redirected towards the external world.’