In the first paper of Freud's 'Contributions to the Psychology of Love' he states that the often bewildering nature of his observational material from the love lives of his patients can be quite easily explained by applying his psychoanalytic ideas (Freud,1910h:166). These ideas can certainly help us to understand and therefore treat the many problems that may arise in this complex area. Our main interest though is with the second of these articles - 'On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love'. In his editor's note Strachey informs us that it mainly deals with Freud's ideas on psychical impotence. Our dissertation will reflect this emphasis and also consider Freud's extension of the concept and his views on the antagonism between civilisation and the sexual instinct. Although this paper contains Freud's primary views on psychical impotence we will feel justified in alluding to any other comments by him on this topic if they help our exposition. As we were reading for this subject one of the daily newspapers reported on a recent conference in Ireland dealing with impotence. The report, presumably mirroring the conference, contained only casual allusions to the emotional dimension of the disorder; there seemed instead to be an emphasis on the physical or organic aspects of impotence, and also on the drugs that are available to treat it. We know that Freud does not use the term impotence, but psychical impotence. This is the strength of the psychoanalytic approach - it perceives that the disorder has a meaning and a history. It possesses an explanatory power that is quite impressive not only for this disorder but for the complex and capricions behaviour of men and women in their love lives. This approach is justified by the dominant role that psychic factors play in the aetiology of impotence and by the success of Freud and other analysts in treating it.