Let us contemplate the life and the activity of any and every living thing: it is in constant search after nourishment in order to turn food and drink into parts of its body; it breathes in order to assimilate into its body all that is usable in the air; its need is ever in a state of renewal, for this drive to life is the condition of life itself.
This is the primal instinct. We call it the assimilation instinct.
Not only is self-assertion an assimilation instinct in the ontogenic sense, but in the phylogenic sense as well.
Every living thing tries to recreate its likeness by means of its seed from the universal whole, to mold all there is in its own image.
A grain of wheat sends out roots in order to fashion a new grain of wheat from earth, sunlight rain and air. The cornflower, too, extorts its blue blossoms from earth, sunlight rain and air. Coral strives to transform the whole ocean into coral islands. Throughout the slow development of the earths crust a crystal tries to change everything around and about into crystals.
The mans seed is forced into the body of the woman and forces her to nourish the mans likeness with her blood. The life principle hidden - within her lets her mold the seed according to her features. Results a struggle between the instincts of assimilation. The characteristic qualities of both find themselves locked in embrace within the new being. The assimilation instincts of the parents will keep on fighting in the child.
Procreating, nurturing, drinking, educating, learning, breathing, creating—all are processes of assimilation. The fight for assimilation requires consumption of strength and therein lies the condition for death. The struggle is brought to a minimum in anabiosis. It is like a truce in war. Death is the succumbing to the powers of assimilation of the outside world. Death is an enormous loss in assimilation strength. But the body fights for its assimilation even while in the process of decomposition.
Whatever is assimilated tries to assimilate on its part, too. In the consumed flesh of an animal still flicker the powers of assimilation of its body.
The drive for assimilation is a form of energy. All the energies of the world are powers of assimilation: they spread themselves in order to transplant all there is into their state.
This pertains as much to heat as it does to electricity. The loss of a bodys life energy is calculated by the extent to which the power of assimilation of a body that has died is smaller than the same power was during its lifetime.
The drive for assimilation as a form of energy plays a part in the ensemble of energies. Thus arsenic enhances a bodys power of assimilation.
In depression the instinct for assimilation grows weak. That is why the depressed person refuses nourishment, starves, is immobilized, goes into a stupor, takes his life. The manic state of manic-depression psychosis is an attempt to whip up the life drive for assimilation; a person who feels he is in danger of being swept away by the flood develops the greatest of physical disturbances.