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Rizzuto, A. Sashin, J.I. Buie, D.H. Meissner, W.W. (1993). A Revised Theory of Aggression. Psychoanal. Rev., 80(1):29-54.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Review, 80(1):29-54

A Revised Theory of Aggression

Ana-Maria Rizzuto, M.D., Jerome I. Sashin, M.D. , Dan H. Buie, M.D. and W. W. Meissner, M.D.

Aggression as a clinical manifestation and as a theoretical issue remains one of the most difficult subjects for analysts to conceptualize in an organized and systematic manner. Clinical observations are biased by a dominant instinctual view of aggression. This influence restricts a broader observational field and prompts the clinician to conceive of “aggressive” manifestations as related to the intensity of the aggressive drive at work, that is, to understand the patient's analytic behavior in economic terms.

In previous papers introducing another perspective on the psychoanalytic theory of aggression (Buie, Meissner, Rizzuto, and Sashin, 1983; Meissner, Rizzuto, Sashin, and Buie, 1987), our study group on aggression presented what we felt was a more authentically psychoanalytic and more purely motivational understanding of aggression that suited the findings on and the vicissitudes of aggression as manifested in the psychoanalytic process.

The essential elements of that understanding can be summarized in the following points:

1. Aggression is not simply a biologically based drive that is in a constant state of activity or discharge. It is rather a biologically rooted drive capacity that requires appropriate stimulus conditions to elicit activation or response.

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