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Beres, D. (1952). Clinical Notes on Aggression in Children. Psychoanal. St. Child, 7:241-263.

(1952). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 7:241-263

Clinical Notes on Aggression in Children

David Beres, M.D.

Freud's formulation in 1920 that aggressive trends are the expressions of a primary, independent and basic instinctual drive, coexistent with the libidinal drive, opened a new vista in clinical psychoanalysis. The theoretical implications of this formulation have been widely discussed, especially by Bibring (1941), Hartmann, Kris and Loewenstein (1949) and Anna Freud (1949a). With this theory Freud supplanted his earlier theory that the basis of aggressive trends is in the "ego instincts." Although the utilization of the newer concept in clinical reports has by this time become a common-place event, the present study is offered as an effort at a more systematic approach to the clinical problems of aggression. It consists of a series of notes based on observations of children in the latency period and in adolescence, who were in residence in a placement institution.

The psychoanalytic concept of aggression as a primary instinctual drive demands a careful distinction between two meanings of the word "aggression," one as an instinctual drive, the other as a description of an act or of behavior. Aggression as an instinctual drive is always unconscious, a force in the id, not recognized until derivatives that utilize its energies appear as acts, thoughts, emotions or symptoms. It is not surprising that only these derivatives occupy the attention of nonanalysts who do not consider unconscious factors, but the value of their descriptive studies should not be minimized. It is a different matter when a psychoanalyst writes, as does Franz Alexander in Our Age of Unreason(1942) in a discussion of aggressive behavior, "It is an adaptive phenomenon, a means of survival, and it is of little interest to us whether it is a fundamental

1 From The Pleasantville Cottage School of the Jewish Child Care Association, Pleasantville, N.

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