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Freud, A. (1972). Comments on Aggression. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 53:163-171.

(1972). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 53:163-171

Comments on Aggression

Anna Freud

Psychoanalytic concepts from the areas of technique, clinical practice or theory are elevated occasionally to a position where the scientific discussion of one of the International Psycho-analytic Congresses centres around them. Whenever this happens, speculation arises invariably as to the reasons for their choice. What the Programme Committee may have had in mind might have been the need to place an important but recently neglected subject, such as the obsessional neurosis, once more into the limelight of general interest; or to restore significance to an originally precise term such as 'acting out' which had lost meaning over the years due to over-use; or to create some order and, if possible, consensus of opinion with regard to a major issue in psychoanalytic thinking as—for this Congress—on the subject of aggression.

Whatever the results of earlier ventures, the last-named one did no more, obviously, than to demonstrate some of the limits of scientific group efforts of this nature. It yielded a useful survey of the relevant publications as provided by the psychoanalytic journals of the last 30 or 40 years, partly in the form of reviews, for the greater part in the form of repetitions and reassertions of original opinions. What it failed to produce was the removal of uncertainties concerning the status of aggression in the theory of drives, or the clarification of some urgent problems, such as the part played by aggression in normal infantile development; its involvement with the various agencies in the psychic structure; its role for character formation; its part in the pathogenesis of neurosis, psychosis, delinquency, the perversions, etc.

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