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Rubinfine, D.L. (1965). On Beating Fantasies. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:315-322.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:315-322

On Beating Fantasies

David L. Rubinfine

Since the publication of Freud's paper 'A Child Is Being Beaten' (1919) a number of clinical observations (Bergler, 1948); (A. Freud, 1923); (Johnson, 1930); (Schmideberg, 1948) have suggested that the latent content of beating fantasies is more varied in meaning than was at first recognized. For example, the relative importance of oedipal versus pre-oedipal derivatives and components is more significant than Freud originally was aware of, and it is now taken for granted that beating fantasies are not limited to obsessional neurotics, but appear in persons with a wide variety of character structures and symptomatology.

This awareness has somehow resulted in a loss of investigative interest in beating fantasies. It is assumed that we know everything there is to know about them, once we have demonstrated pre-oedipal and oedipal latent elements in their fabric. However, the fact remains that identical latent elements can be present in a wide variety of clinical pictures in the absence of beating fantasies. Why then do beating fantasies develop in some people and not in others?

I will attempt to demonstrate in this paper that beating fantasies become permanent, highly invested structures only when the normal obsessional mechanisms of childhood (which achieve primacy roughly between 18 months and 3 years of age) fail adequately to control aggressive drive impulses. In other words, a state in which large charges of free aggression constantly threaten discharge is extremely disruptive to ego development as well as to object relations.

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