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Brenner, C. (1971). The Psychoanalytic Concept of Aggression. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 52:137-144.

(1971). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 52:137-144

The Psychoanalytic Concept of Aggression

Charles Brenner


(1) Psychological evidence seems to be an acceptable basis for the concept of aggression as an instinctual drive. Supporting evidence from other branches of biology, though it would be welcome, is not essential, nor is it available at present. (2) No source of aggression can be specified, other than a psychological one. Aggression cannot, at present, be related to any physiological phenomena other than brain functioning. (3) There is no evidence at present to support the view that the aggressive drive is a measure of the demand of bodily processes on mental functioning. (4) Aggression and libido bear similar relations to the pleasure principle. In general, discharge is associated with pleasure; lack of discharge, with unpleasure. (5) The respective roles of the two drives are likewise similar with respect to psychical conflict. (6) The aim of aggression is not uniformly destruction of the cathected object. On the contrary, the aim is variable, and is intimately related to experience and to ego functions. (7) In general, the relationship between ego functions and the drives is an extremely complex and close one. (8) It seems impossible to decide at present between the theory of drive fusion and that of drive differentiation.

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