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Hanly, C. (1978). Instincts and Hostile Affects. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:149-156.

(1978). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59:149-156

Instincts and Hostile Affects

Charles Hanly

The question posed by this paper is whether or not the aggressive instinct acts in the same way as the sexual one. I propose to consider this question by advancing the hypothesis that, whereas the sexual instinct is a spontaneous demand instinct, the aggressive instinct is a reflex instinct. Stated differently, the aggressive instinct is a readiness to respond with a demand for action upon the psychic apparatus, but the occurrence of a demand must be released by a stimulus that is extrinsic to the instinct itself. If so, the aggressive instinct does not on its own and by itself initiate a 'demand for work' within the psychic apparatus. This hypothesis also places the psychic role of affects in a somewhat different light. Anxiety not only activates defences, it may also release aggression. Frustration activates aggression. Affects such as rage, hatred, resentment, the whole range of hostile affects which are the psychic manifestations of aggression, develop under specific conditions to be considered later. Other affects, such as disappointment, sadness, despair, chagrin, ruefulness and resignation, appear to partially discharge the excitation of an instinctual demand in the absence of gratification. These affects do not express the instinctual want but rather the barrier to its gratification (Freud, 1950); (Sartre, 1939); (Hanly, 1966), (1975). Accordingly, there are three vantage points from which the psychodynamics of affects can be studied: as expressions of instinct, as reactions to barriers to gratification, and as activators of instincts.

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