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Freud, A. (1949). Aggression in Relation to Emotional Development; Normal and Pathological. Psychoanal. St. Child, 3:37-42.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 3:37-42

Aggression in Relation to Emotional Development; Normal and Pathological

Anna Freud


I shall try as my contribution to this symposium on aggression, to outline in general the contribution made by Freudian psychoanalysis to the subject. I may find it impossible to do so without committing grave errors of omission and misrepresentation. If this happens, I should like you to ascribe the defects to the difficulty of dealing with a wide and complicated problem in the prescribed quarter of an hour rather than to any tendencies I may have towards systematisation and oversimplification.

The role of the instincts in shaping the personality

The main changes brought about in child psychology by the investigations of psychoanalysis concern the re-orientation with regard to the role of the instinctive urges in the development of the individual. In pre-analytic psychology, childhood was regarded as a more or less peaceful period of progressive growth and development in which the instinctive urges, where they appeared, played the role of disturbing elements. Analytic psychology, on the other hand, ascribes to the innate instincts the main role in shaping the personality. It is the claim of the instinctive urges on the mind which results in the development of new functions, the so-called ego functions. The main task of the ego functions is seen in the attempt to reconcile the demand for gratification made by the instinctive urges with the conditions existing in the child's environment. When these external conditions permit satisfaction of an instinctive wish which has arisen, the ego merely plays its part in helping to guide the instinct towards the desired aim. When the demands made by the environment clash with the claim of the instincts, the ego is faced with a problem and has to find a solution.

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