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Freud and Nietzsche on Sublimation


The notion of sublimation is essential to Nietzsche and Freud. However, Freud's writings fail to provide a persuasive notion of sublimation. In particular, Freud's writings are confused on the distinction between pathological symptoms and sublimation and on the relation between sublimation and repression. After rehearsing these problems in some detail, it is proposed that a return to Nietzsche allows for a more coherent account of sublimation, its difference from pathological symptoms, and its relation to repression. In summary, on Nietzsche's account, while repression and pathological symptoms involve a disintegration (of the self), sublimation involves integration. The article concludes with a brief consideration of some post-Freudian accounts of sublimation that represent a return to a more Nietzschean approach.