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Rubinfine, D.L. (1959). American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXVI, 1956: Ego Strengthening Aspects of Hostility. Edrita Fried. Pp. 179-187.. Psychoanal Q., 28:116.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXVI, 1956: Ego Strengthening Aspects of Hostility. Edrita Fried. Pp. 179-187.

(1959). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 28:116

American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXVI, 1956: Ego Strengthening Aspects of Hostility. Edrita Fried. Pp. 179-187.

David L. Rubinfine

Many of the most deeply disturbed patients in psychotherapy are puzzled by their compulsion to generate hostility. They maintain that hostility is indispensable to them even while affirming their desire for the peace and happiness with which it interferes. The ego appears divided in these cases. One part needs hostility. Within their pathological psychic structure hostility occupies the place of an ego-syntonic structure. Another part of the ego experiences hostility as an ego-alien phenomenon. When this aspect gains the upper hand, the patients complain of their hostility as a personal defect, whether recognized as repressed or expressed overtly. It prevents them from establishing close relations with others, and maintaining their hostility exhausts their energy. At other times, hostility seems to them ego-syntonic. The conflict is experienced as a sense of defeat, an emotional deadlock, a paralyzing depression.

Analysis of one hundred fourteen such cases showed that these patients became more hostile before, during, or after several situations: after substantial external accomplishment or emotional success, or if someone displayed warmth to them or made sexual overtures. Hostility is developed before or after sexual intercourse; after some artistic experiences; in groups where there is a great deal of stimulation; or in the presence of persons who overwhelm the patient. Patients feel hostility over someone's death, illness, or ill fate, or when confronted with an unexpected attack. Hostility was observed toward the end of vacation periods. All these situations have in common that they lead to a rather sudden increase of various kinds of stimulation or increase closeness to other persons. These patients relate to their environment primarily through processes of incorporation and identification.

It is against ego-weakening processes and the deep anxiety associated with loss of ego strength that hostility is mobilized. Self-differentiation is realized through hostility. When unstimulated, these patients feel detached; they are even more disturbed if stimulation is increased and external circumstances bring them closer to human beings. Excessive use of identification and incorporation processes then cause an experience of fusion. The anxiety that accompanies the feeling of self-loss causes resort to hostility. This leads in turn to detachment from the world which threatens to engulf them.

Dr. Fried fully discusses therapy with such patients, which includes strengthening the ego and 'rehearsal' of expression of hostility as the ego becomes able to tolerate it.

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Article Citation

Rubinfine, D.L. (1959). American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXVI, 1956. Psychoanal. Q., 28:116

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