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Orgel, S. (1975). Fusion with the Victim: A Reply to the Discussion by D. J. De Levita. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:373-373.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:373-373

Fusion with the Victim: A Reply to the Discussion by D. J. De Levita Related Papers

Shelley Orgel

Dr de Levita's (1974) provocative, complex discussion of my paper (Orgel, 1974) is much appreciated. I should like to address myself briefly to one of his basic questions. He asks whether I think that the concept of fusing with the victim, which implies that the child is capable of logically conceiving the object of his aggression, requires mental operations of a higher level, and therefore has to be localized much later in development than identification with the aggressor.

Perhaps the inconsistency he notes is more apparent and semantic than real. I use the term 'fusion with the victim' to establish a verbal form that parallels Anna Freud's 'identification with the aggressor'. However, I mean to imply by the word 'fusion' a more primitive stage of identification than in the latter mechanism. The 'victim' is not yet the conceptualized object of aggression that is turned against the self defensively, as much as a representation of the incompletely differentiated self–object that tends towards fusion in the face of the frustration of aggression (Hartmann, Kris & Loewenstein, 1949). One result of identification with the aggressor is the promotion of self–object differentiation and strengthening of ego boundaries, both of which are less stable in those who show the phenomena I described.

The germ of the idea for this paper came from Miss Freud's address to the 27th International Congress in Vienna in 1971 (A. Freud, 1972). She stated that in her observations of toddlers, attacking is a direct derivative of the aggressive drive, while aggression in the service of defence is a learned response mediated by the ego.

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