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Frijling-Schreuder, E.C. (1972). The Vicissitudes of Aggression in Normal Development, in Childhood Neurosis and in Childhood Psychosis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 53:185-190.

(1972). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 53:185-190

The Vicissitudes of Aggression in Normal Development, in Childhood Neurosis and in Childhood Psychosis

E. C.M. Frijling-Schreuder


In normal development the initial diffuse discharge of aggression is soon modified by fusion with libido and by the development of libidinal ties. As the thought processes develop, aggression is handled by magical thinking and fantasying, by diffuse feelings of omnipotence and rage. In the oedipal phase these feelings are organized into feelings of love and hate. More and more, feeling and thinking as trial action take the place of direct discharge. Verbal aggression largely replaces blows and kicks. Purposeful action replaces impulsive discharge. In neurosis, aggression remains partly in its original form.

In neurotic symptom formation the compromise between the wish to kill and the reaction against this wish is separated from the rest of the personality. In severe character disorders the ego is more or less overwhelmed by the primitive aggression, and in suicide the patient is completely destroyed by the turning of aggression against the self.

In childhood psychosis the development of aggression under the influence of the libido, and consequently verbal mastery of aggression and mastery of aggression in clear feelings, do not develop. In its place, magical thought processes and diffuse mood swings remain insufficient to prevent massive impulsive discharge.

Whatever brittle ego development is achieved will be undermined by the impossibility of neutralizing aggression. There is too little neutralized aggression to be freed for purposeful action.

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