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Sinha, T.C. (1972). On Aggression. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 53:285-290.

(1972). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 53:285-290

On Aggression

T. C. Sinha


Subjective feelings and experiences cannot be defined properly. Yet we need some workable connotation or idea about the terms we use.

Sometimes violence and aggression are used as synonymous terms. But the difference is that the term 'aggression' is used when a motive is ascribed to the act of violence; in violence as such, it may or may not be present. In aggression we posit a wish of some agency (a doer with mental activity) and in this lies its essential difference from violence. A violent storm or earthquake is a natural phenomenon, but not a wishful act. In expressions such as 'the patient became violent' the reference is to the action and not to the wish attitude of the person.

In any wish situation, there is a subject, an object and an action attitude or an action relationship between the subject and the object. In aggression the wish is either to punish or to destroy the object, to thwart or modify a tendency in the object, or to try to bring a situation under control by use of physical or mental force. But can we say that all our attempts at modification of an object or a situation necessarily constitute an act of aggression? We do not necessarily characterize the training of children as aggressive unless we employ force to effect it. In disapproving of a child's actions, we employ a mental force which is interpreted by the child as an impending physical threat. The pain or injury caused by a fall, etc. is misinterpreted by the child as an act of aggression.

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