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Ritvo, S. (1974). A Discussion of the Paper by Rose Edgcumbe and Joseph Sandler, 'Some Comments on "Aggression Turned Against the Self": A Brief Communication'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 55:369-370.

(1974). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 55:369-370

A Discussion of the Paper by Rose Edgcumbe and Joseph Sandler, 'Some Comments on "Aggression Turned Against the Self": A Brief Communication'

Samuel Ritvo

The authors (this issue) realize the hazards of reading manifest behaviour without the verbal and other communications which either reveal the wish or make plausible inferences possible. Therefore they start with the aggressive wish as they define it. Then, for the purposes of the relatively isolated study of certain aggressive phenomena, this part formulation of the issue of aggression at a clinical observational level has an advantage, though a limited one, for the study of the phenomena chosen.

I agree with the view that the wish as the term is used here is not purely an instinctual one. But no wish is in this sense purely instinctual. A purely instinctual wish is an abstract concept which transcends observation. It is a conceptual tool that is very useful in constructing a psychoanalytic model of the mind which, for example, will relate the transformations which the instinctual drives and their related wishes undergo in the course of psychosexual development, neurosogenesis or character formation, to mention but a few of the diverse phenomena psychoanalytic theory tries to encompass and explain. Any specific manifest behaviour and its concomitant wish is, as the authors say, a final common pathway. The wish or intention in the sense used here, is the resultant of external causes and internal motivations or instinctual drives. Psychoanalytic theory has to take both into account in its general theory though some aspect of general theory may be omitted from explicit consideration when the phenomena are being studied and theoretically formulated on the level of clinical theory.

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