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(agressivitÈ) Aggressivity is one of the central issues that

Lacan deals with in his papers in the period 1936 to the early 1950s. The first

point that should be noted is that Lacan draws a distinction between aggres-

sivity and aggression, in that the latter refers only to violent acts whereas the

former is a fundamental relation which underlies not only such acts but many

other phenomena also (see Sl, 177). Thus aggressivity is just as present, Lacan

argues, in apparently loving acts as in violent ones; it 'underlies the activity of

the philanthropist, the idealist, the pedagogue, and even the reformer' (E, 7). In

taking this stance, Lacan is simply restating Freud's concept of ambivalence

(the interdependence of love and hate), which Lacan regards as one of the

fundamental discoveries of psychoanalysis.

Lacan situates aggressivity in the dual relation between the ego and the

counterpart. In the MIRROR STAGE, the infant sees its reflection in the mirror as a

wholeness, in contrast with the uncoordination in the real body: this contrast is

experienced as an aggressive tension between the specular image and the real

body, since the wholeness of the image seems to threaten the body with

disintegration and fragmentation (see FRAGMENTED BODY).

The consequent identification with the specular image thus implies an

ambivalent relation with the counterpart, involving both eroticism and aggres-

sion. This 'erotic aggression' continues as a fundamental ambivalence under-

lying all future forms of identification, and is an essential characteristic of

narcissism. Narcissism can thus easily veer from extreme self-love to the

opposite extreme of 'narcissistic suicidal aggression' (agression suicidaire

narcissique) (Ec, 187).

By linking aggressivity to the imaginary order of eros, Lacan seems to

diverge significantly from Freud, since Freud sees aggressivity as an outward

manifestation of the death drive (which is, in Lacanian terms, situated not in

the imaginary but in the symbolic order). Aggressivity is also related by Lacan

to the Hegelian concept of the fight to the death, which is a stage in the

dialectic of the master and the slave.

Lacan argues that it is important to bring the analysand's aggressivity into

play early in the treatment by causing it to emerge as negative transference.

This aggressivity directed towards the analyst then becomes 'the initial knot of

the analytic drama' (E, 14). This phase of the treatment is very important since

if the aggressivity is handled correctly by the analyst, it will be accompanied

by 'a marked decrease in the patient's deepest resistances' (Lacan, 1951b: 13).

== References ==

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