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Libido, in the context of the CT model, refers to the psychological impulse, desire or drive to act or to resist action. The model describes each cognitive process as being driven by a libido which allows for the energy cost of its operation to be justified from the perspective of an organism. The model describes two types of libido, proactive and reactive, which are said to be equivalent under the pleasure principle.

Pleasure Principle

The pleasure principle states that:

The libido aimed towards the pursuit of pleasure is equivalent to the libido aimed at the avoidance of displeasure.

The principle suggests that libido is equivalent to contra-libido, acting as a double negation, and therefore the desire to avoid is equivalent to the desire to pursue. The principle suggests that the true opposite of libido is apathy, rather than avoidance, and that avoidance has at its center a libidinal charge towards organism preservation that is equal to the charge evidenced by proactive animation towards action. In the psychodynamics domain, the pursuit of pleasure is called proactive libido, while the avoidance of displeasure is called reactive libido. Pleasure refers to any psychic activity that results in the qualia of satisfaction or the minimization of dissatisfaction.

Proactive Libido

Proactive libido, or the pursuit of pleasure, is the libido used by the proactive functions: P+ and J+. These functions are motivated by an amplification of satisfaction through proactive channels. In the case of P+, pleasure is synonymous to the discovery of novel objects. In the case of J+, pleasure is synonymous to the attainment of order. Pleasure is therefore the qualia resulting from P+ or J+ successfully fulfilling their respective cognitive operations. The body interprets the discovery of new objects and the attainment of order as life-conducive, triggering the reward system.

Reactive Libido

Reactive libido, or avoidance of displeasure, is the libido used by the reactive functions: P- and J-. These functions are motivated by a minimization of dissatisfaction through reactive channels. In the case of P-, libido is directed towards the avoidance of disorientation by proper territory mapping. In the case of J-, libido is directed towards the avoidance of imperfection or errors in object detection. The body interprets the avoidance of disorientation and the avoidance of imperfection as life-conducive, triggering the reward system.

Pain Principle

The pain principle states that:

The successful application of a libido vector leads to pleasure (and avoidance of displeasure), while an unsuccessful application leads to pain.

The principle suggests that when a libido vector, either going towards an act or avoiding an act, is properly executed, the result is pleasure, but via the principle of equivalence, the unsuccessful execution of a libido vector leads to pain. When the body acts in such a way as to pursue a reward system activation, and is unable to, the pain system activates instead of the reward system.

Energetic Toll

Since a person's cognitive weighting/bias is equivalent to a bias in reward-system activation, inhibition of a biased cognitive process leads to a pain known as energetic toll. Energetic toll is the qualia of pain resulting from a favored reward-system pathway being inhibited, while unintegrated reward pathways are forced into use instead. Due to this lack of integration, these alternate reward pathways are not adequately triggering the reward system by their activation. An example of this may involve a person with a P+ cognitive bias who is experiencing repulsion to the charted, but who is inhibited from executing SCAN visualSystem for distant to look elsewhere for new objects. The libido toward wanderlust will be stifled by the context, and therefore result in an experience of pain or energetic toll.

Integrative Toll

Although the development of a function into consciousness will lead to energetic toll insofar as it is not fully integrated, even when integration is successful, the libido of the lead process is reduced in order to give libido to that process. In such cases, the primary function can no longer be the sole libido vector, and the body therefore experiences pain insofar as there is reduction of libido from the primary towards the other function. However, because the newly developed function is also able to trigger the reward system through its use, the qualia of the individual will be simultaneously composed of pain and pleasure. Due to this phenomenon, the psychodynamics domain proposes that antithetical developments are partially masochistic in character.