“Energy Level” Freudianism?

Jason Stone
4 min readAug 26, 2022


Perhaps the logic of Freudianism is that so much of the human psychology is idiosyncratic that it is difficult to create generalizations. What if we could focus scientific inquiry on the features that all living humans must have?

He may have decided that activity in the digestive and reproductive systems are universal and fundamental to human experience. Therefore, although one may not be able to account for all psychological phenomena in terms of activity in these overlapping areas, at least one would have good reasons for thinking that observations in this two areas would be fairly universal.

If this is in fact the foundation of scientific psychology, then perhaps we can imagine an even more comprehensive, universal aspect of human existence — one that seems to play a role in all conscious activity. Perhaps much of Freudianism could be reimagined in terms of perceived energy levels. Changes in energy level seem to be a constant feature of all human activities. Perhaps revisiting the Freudian infrastructure and superstructure that is built on the digestive and reproductive systems could inspire a new style of Freudian infrastructure and superstructure built upon the subjective experience of energy levels. Perhaps in Freud’s day there were not sufficient scientific tools for measuring the perception of energy levels. Today, brain scanning, hormone level measurement, and computer analysis technologies may help us to correlate perceived energy levels with physiology in ways that could help us to reinterpret mythologies and other sources of human knowledge and wisdom.

Maybe many of the problems people have in adulthood are the result of a mismatch between their childhood and early adult energy levels, and the lived experiences they have as mature adults.

There may be several different major battles that all humans tend to face while attempting to budget their available energy at different points during their development. The exact stages one goes through and the necessity of each stage may vary by individual and cultural context. Social processes could help to refine and tailor the list of stages for a particular cultural context. Here is an attempt to sketch out what may be a few fairly common stages:

1. Staying awake when others are awake or when there is some other limited window of opportunity

2. Potty training instead of going freely in a diaper

3. Informal education and play with others during times outside one’s control

4. Informal education and play that is under one’s control

5. Formal education

6. Feeding, dressing, cleaning, and decorating one’s person and possessions

7. Romance and initial sexual experiences

8. Remunerated and Unremunerated work for others

9. Formal, regular labor for others

10. Marriage

11. Having children

12. Advancing career

13. Health maintenance and decline

14. Retirement — which introduces more free time and more bodily and mental decline

If these thresholds and others are not successfully navigated, then perhaps the individual remains delayed and suffers in ways that might be relieved by psychoanalytical and physiological examinations and therapies.

If energy is the capacity to bring about change, then there are at least three sources of control that attempt to shape how the individual brings about change or not — change that may shape the individual’s body, mind, and environment (which includes other individuals).

ID — The portion of one’s cognition and direct bodily sensations that are outside of awareness and have an internal origin.

EGO — The portion of one’s cognition and direct bodily sensations that are within the individual’s awareness and shaped by the individual in aware ways.

SUPER EGO — The portion of one’s cognition and direct bodily sensations that are brought about by the perceived and actual demands of the community that are placed on the individual.

If the individual fails to find a pleasant way to bring about change in the stages of life listed above under the influence of the three forces above, then they may encounter unhappiness and other developmental problems.

Interestingly, by basing the theory on energy (i.e. ability to bring about change) simple equations from physics might be useful for exploring psychological phenomena. If we can find physiological markers of increased energy levels, we may even be able to empirically test the consequences of theories intended to lead patients to better budgeting of their energy. Often we may wish to invest our energy in ways that will lead to a better expenditure of energy in the future. If we do not learn to invest in this way using the ego, where we are not forced to do so by the superego, then perhaps the energy demands as we advance in life may become overwhelming.

We should not assume that we can every fully understand a phenomena as complex as the human mind, however, perhaps this approach could be developed through social processes over time into a set of pragmatic conventions that could encourage wellness with little chance of causing harm. One powerful technique might be a form of behavioralist conditioning that is voluntary only. Patients might work with a counselor to define a plan that they can abandon or adjust at any time and that uses gentle voluntary forms of reinforcement.