...Partialtrieb, translated ... as “component instinct”; I would prefer partial drive - drive because, once beyond the AnIehnung (anaclisis, in English: leaning to or on) on the vital somatic functions, it has nothing to do with instincts whatsoever, and partial because it concerns a component of a totality that is never there, that never reaches a conclusion.- Paul Verhaeghe, "Neurosis and Perversion: IL N'Y A PAS DE RAPPORT SEXUEL"
In order to understand the importance of this idea, we have to go back to the concept of drive, Trieb. As you probably know, Freud defined the drive as a concept on the border between the psyche and the body, containing four basic components: source and pressure, aim and object. The first two belong to the somatic side, the other two to the psyche. Defined as such, the drive concept seems very easy to understand. It has a somatic source, probably something within the genital organs and the hormones, resulting in pressure which aims at relief, that is, coitus, with the other sex as appropriate object. In this respect, the drive is indeed nothing more than an instinct, directed by reflex actions and eventually functioning on the basis of childhood-conditioned fixations. This view is as easy to understand as it is wrong. It is wrong because it leaves out the two most fundamental characteristics of the drive. First of all, each drive is a partial one; secondly, each drive is essentially auto-erotic.
The aspect of being partial shows up in two ways. First of all, the drive is partial in relation to the idea of procreation, even in relation to the idea of coitus. Man may have an oral drive, an anal drive, and so on, but he does not have a totalised sexual drive. Freud will be very critical about the existence of a ganze Sexualstrebung, a total sexual urge. Secondly, each drive is partial in relationship to the body, in the respect that a drive never encompasses the whole of it. On the contrary, each drive seems to specialise in one part of the body or one bodily activity, either in an active or in a passive manner.
Psychosexual development results in an attempt to gather all these partial drives under the banner of genital or ‘mature’ sexuality, but this attempt is never a very convincing one. In spite of so-called genital maturity, it is quite obvious that everyone has his own favourite “pre-genital” predilections, which make it all the more difficult to construct the right tunnel.
This psychosexual development also shows the second characteristic very clearly, namely that these fragmented drives are directed to one’s own body. They are essentially auto-erotic. It is only later on that the object becomes an external one, and even then, it will never have the same importance as the original. From the point of view of the partial drive, the other always remains a means, never an end. The trajectory of the partial drive is curved, going around the other and returning to oneself, thereby creating a self-sufficient enclosure. So the aim of the partial drive is not the other as object, no, the aim is a certain jouissance. In view of this aim, the importance of the other has nothing to do with him or her as another human being. He or she has instrumental value only, and is indeed reduced to an object, even a partial one for that matter.