chapter  Chapter 6
13 Pages

Aggression and destructiveness

ByLaura Dethiville

Here, we have to reverse our usual manner of proceeding if we want to approach Winnicott’s theory of aggression. The orthodox theory has it that aggression is always a reaction to the encounter with the principle of reality, whereas in fact it is the impulse which creates the quality of the externalization. He writes in Playing and Reality: “There is no anger in the destruction of the object to which I am referring, though there could be said to be joy at the object’s survival” (Winnicott, 1994: 86). In fact, initially we cannot speak of the infant’s intentional aggression, and here again the issues of vocabulary are essential. Winnicott writes in Aggression and its Relation to Emotional Development, “confusion exists through our using the term aggression sometimes when we mean spontaneity” (Winnicott, 1992: 217), and here we find a small phrase which completely changes the way we read his developments on aggression. First, we must not forget that the word “aggression” comes from the Latin agredior, go towards, advance. I proposed in a previous book to translate this “go towards” by “modifying infringement”.