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Lichtenberg, J.D. (1982). Frames of Reference for Viewing Aggression. Psychoanal. Inq., 2(2):213-231.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 2(2):213-231

Frames of Reference for Viewing Aggression Related Papers

Joseph D. Lichtenberg, M.D.

Parens presents in his book a major clarification of a subject that has puzzled psychoanalysts and provoked lengthy inconclusive debate among adherents of differing viewpoints. Parens has followed infants into the toddler period, examined their behaviors carefully, using the sensibilities of analytically sophisticated observers to interpret the meaning of the children's actions and interactions. Based on these direct observations, Parens concluded that “the varying manifestations of aggressive discharge in the children” (p. 4) could be categorized as “(1) the unpleasure-related discharge of destructiveness, (2) the nonaffective discharge of destructiveness, (3) the nondestructive discharge of aggression, and (4) the pleasure-related discharge of destructiveness” (p. 4). Roughly speaking, these four categories refer to (1) rage responses in infants who are hungry, frightened or in pain, (2) sucking and chewing, the so-called “prey aggression” of carnivores, (3) assertiveness and general activity, and (4) pushing, kicking, biting, teasing, etc., with intent to hurt and to derive sadistic pleasure.

Parens offers persuasive arguments to substantiate the existence of each of his four categories.

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