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Rangell, L. (1972). Aggression, Oedipus, and Historical Perspective. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 53:3-10.

(1972). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 53:3-10

Aggression, Oedipus, and Historical Perspective

Leo Rangell

Following the preceding introductory announcements, including the sad and sober acknowledgement of death, we turn next to the scientific theme of this Congress which, appropriately, is on the subject of aggression. Freud's tying of the two together is one of the subtle theoretical problems to be discussed during this week's deliberations.

First, in deference to our meeting for the first time at the birthplace of psychoanalysis, a broad historical look: it is a moving experience to be here at this geographic spot, the largest number by far ever to attend an International Psycho-Analytical Congress. One hundred years ago, 99 to be exact, the 16-year-old Sigmund Freud, in the earliest of his letters to be preserved and the latest to be discovered (1969), described his feelings to his friend Emil Fluss upon his return to Vienna after visiting his place of birth, Pribor, which he had left when he was three years old.

A number of remarkable characteristics are already revealed in this searching young mind:

(1) He is already seen to subject his affective stirrings, his feelings and excitements, his 'first love', to introspection and to describe them in words in terms of the secondary process. (2) He seeks to convey his thoughts in a communication which is private, special, unlike any other. The opening letter addressed to 'Dear new friend' is marked 'confidential'. (The recipient changes some years later from Fluss to Fliess!) (3) This communication is characterized by a search for the truth: 'I shall confess the unvarnished truth to you—but to you alone.

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