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Singer, M.H. (1999). How Central is the Analysis of Aggression to Clinical Psychoanalysis?. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(4):1179-1189.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(4):1179-1189

How Central is the Analysis of Aggression to Clinical Psychoanalysis?

Michael H. Singer

Erik Gann reminded us that in today's climate, when the basic framework of psychoanalytic theory, especially the theory of technique, is undergoing major challenges and revisions, the “disorienting” title of this panel is quite relevant. And since our new tendency increasingly is to orient ourselves around interrelational phenomena, such questions as those implied in the panel's title may even lead us “to make different assumptions about what makes people tick,” and how to help them analytically. This is especially so when we contemplate the intrapsychic and interpersonal roles of aggression—particularly with regard to where and whom it comes from in the analytic dyad.

Turning the title upside down, in effect, Gann asked the panelists to consider whether, and how much, recent developments in the theory of clinical process and technique have influenced their work with the psychoanalysis of aggression. He also asked how each of them “conceptualizes the sources and manifestations of aggression, destructiveness, sadism, hostility, hate, rage, and so on.”

Gann thinks that we probably find it difficult to work with our patients' aggression and raw destructive urges, and that we may even discourage them.

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