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  Libido was a word used by physicians in the 18th century (who loosely mixed Latin with their terminology) to mean sexual desire. The first dynamic psychiatrists, Benedikt and Krafft-Ebing, based theories of nervous illness on an undetermined fluid of sexual energies. Sexologists also used the word in the sense of sexual desire. Moll gave it the wider meaning of sexual instinct in a developmental evolutionary sense and Freud adopted this.

Jung identified libido not as sexual energy but as psychic energy which expresses itself through universal symbols. This way of describing libido led to his concepts of the collective unconscious and the archetypes. For Jung, the first three to five years were a time of pre-sexual libidinal sexual energy; from five to the age of puberty the germs of sexuality appear; then puberty marks the time of sexual maturity. Present difficulties in an adult patient would be seen to be a reactivation of blocked libido in the past. Jung\'s principles of libidinal energy were the same as in the physical sciences: conservation, transformation and degradation. They had no cause, only aim, and were unmeasurable. MJ



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