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Lipton, S.D. (1961). Aggression and Symptom Formation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 9:585-592.

(1961). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 9:585-592

Aggression and Symptom Formation

Samuel D. Lipton, M.D.

To aid the reader in orienting himself to this summary it may be useful if some prefatory remarks are presented concerning the difficulty the reporter experienced in preparing it and the formulations he found useful in conceptualizing this difficulty. The difficulty seemed to lie in the fact that there were areas of terminological and to some extent theoretical divergence that remained implicit and unsettled and left the various contributions, which in themselves were most interesting and stimulating, unrelated to a unified theme.

In the first place, there were data from classical analysis, from analyses of psychotic adults, from treatment of psychotic children, from observations of infants, and from studies of psychosomatic illness. In these diverse situations there are both major and subtle shifts in underlying assumptions. It is evident that when the term aggression is used in these varied situations its implications are often divergent.

Secondly, the term aggression is commonly used to mean several different concepts. (a) It is used to describe a form of psychic energy, as contrasted with libido. In this context are described intrapsychic cathectic changes such as the investment of an object representation with aggressive energy. (b) It is used to describe ideas or behavior, or both, which are angry, hateful, or destructive. Thus, striking someone may be called aggression. (c) The term is used to describe action or activity. These distinctions are usually easy to discern according to the context.

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