One of the proponents who attempt to shed a new light on Ferenczi's original notion of IWA is Jay Frankel (2002). (Frankel, J. (2002) Exploring Ferenczi's Concept of Identification with the Aggressor: Its Role in Trauma, Everyday Life, and the Therapeutic Relationship. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 12:101-139)
He stresses that although many of us attribute this notion to that of Anna Freud, (as L & P does as we saw above), Frenczi’s notion of IWA should be honored for its originality, and his original notion was practically very different from IWA proposed by Anna Freud, which basically means that the victim turn the situation around and becomes aggressor him/herself. “by impersonating the aggressor, assuming his attributes or imitating his aggression, the child transforms himself from the person threatened into the person who makes the threat” (A.Freud, 1936, p. 113).
Frankel carefully guides us to explore Ferenczi’s original meaning of IWA.
Frankel states that Ferenczi introduced this term in his work in 1933 (Ferenczi, 1933), three years before Anna Freud’s work (1936)
Ferenczi, S. (1933), Confusion of tongues between adults and the child. In:
Final Contributions to the Problems and Methods of Psycho-Analysis, ed.
M. Balint (trans. E. Mosbacher).
: Karnac Books, 1980, pp. 156- London
167., Freud, A. (1936), The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (rev.).
: New York
International Universities Press.
One of the reasons that Ferenczi's notion did not gain initial recognition was because of the specific circumstances in which his idea was initially presented. His 1933 paper was presented at the Weisbaden Congress in September 1932 and published in German in 1933. Unfortunately it was not translated in English and published until 1949.
Frankel succinctly summarizes Ferenci’s idea presented in this paper.” Exploring the early memories of his adult patients who had been abused as children, Ferenczi (1933) found evidence that children who are terrified by adults who are out of control will “subordinate themselves like automata to the will of the aggressor to divine each one of his desires and to gratify these; completely oblivious of themselves they identify themselves with the aggressor…. The weak and undeveloped personality reacts to sudden unpleasure not by defence, but by anxiety-ridden identification and by introjection of the menacing person or aggressor” (pp. 162-163, entire passage italicized in the original). The child “become[s] one” (p. 165) with the attacker.