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Edgcumbe, R. Sandler, J. (1974). Some Comments on 'Aggression Turned Against the Self': A Brief Communication. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 55:365-367.
   

(1974). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 55:365-367

Some Comments on 'Aggression Turned Against the Self': A Brief Communication

Rose Edgcumbe and Joseph Sandler

This short paper has emerged from the work of a study group of the Hampstead Index project, concerned, over the past year, with the clarification of problems of aggression directed against the self. A major stimulus to the work of the group came from the discussions on aggression at the Vienna Congress, where it was abundantly clear that, to say the least, a great amount of work remains to be done in regard to the clarification of the concept of aggression (cf. Lussier, 1972); (Heimann & Valenstein, 1972). A further important stimulus came from the fact that when we examined the material loosely grouped under the heading 'aggression directed against the self' in the Hampstead Index, we found a wide variety of clinical phenomena. These ranged from the young infant's scratching his own face to various forms of self-denigration, self-condemnation and guilt feelings, and included such phenomena as the older child's head-banging, hair-pulling and nail-biting; major and minor accidents of all sorts; deliberate self-injury and mutilation; suicide; psychosomatic illness; various forms of masochistic behaviour and the inhibition or undermining of one's own potential achievements and capacities; as well as a number of other forms.

After many attempts to find a basis for distinguishing and explaining these phenomena it became clear to us that the use of the descriptive concept of aggression must be rigorously avoided. What might appear to the observer to be aggressive need not reflect a destructive or aggressive impulse in the child.

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