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Sandler, J. (1991). Anna Freud's 1952 Harvard University Lectures. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 14(1):31-61.

(1991). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 14(1):31-61

Anna Freud's 1952 Harvard University Lectures

Joseph Sandler

Lecture Seven: Towards the Oedipus Complex

Quite a number of questions came in last time. Some of these related to the theory and I don't think I can do much more than name them. There was the almost inevitable question about whether aggression is inborn or whether it is produced by the frustrations which the child has to suffer. The questioner wanted to know whether there was any direct evidence to show that aggression exists without frustration. Well, there is no direct evidence because those people who would like to prove it are hampered by the fact that there is no such thing as life without frustration, and it is only if we could have a child who experienced no frustrations could we prove that aggression is there nevertheless. I suppose discussion of these different theories of aggression will accompany you further through your dealings but you will realize that our theories are formed, not so much on the basis of direct evidence, on the observation of single cases, but rather on overall impressions. The theories are tried out to see whether they fit the facts, whether they make it easier to understand the facts. If they do not fulfil that particular purpose for any length of time they are dropped again. Well the theory of aggression being inborn has not yet been dropped. Or I should say, very many people hold on to it while very many other people doubt it, so you can take it as an open question.

The other theoretical point is easier to answer. Somebody wanted to know whether the description, as I gave it last time, of the ego being built up of identifications, negates completely the idea that temperament, and character can be inherited factors or can contain inherited elements.

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