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Coen, S.J. (1996). The Cultivation Of Hatred: The Bourgeois Experience, Victoria To Freud, Volume 3. By Peter Gay. New York: Norton, 1993, x + 685 pp., $30.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:308-312.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:308-312

The Cultivation Of Hatred: The Bourgeois Experience, Victoria To Freud, Volume 3. By Peter Gay. New York: Norton, 1993, x + 685 pp., $30.00.

Review by:
Stanley J. Coen

What do you get when you add psychoanalytic training to the intellectual resources of an already highly distinguished, prolific historian? What will a psychoanalytic perspective add to the ways in which historical tales are organized? These are some of the questions with which I approached Peter Gay's new book. This book is the third in his series about the bourgeois experience during the Victorian era. Gay, Sterling Professor of History at Yale, has had psychoanalytic training at the Western New England Psychoanalytic Institute. His knowledge of European and American intellectual history is daunting. I had another more personal interest in this book review: Peter Gay taught me something about critical reasoning when I was a freshman at Columbia College some forty years ago, and I have enjoyed reading earlier works of his, especially Art and Act: On Causes in History—Manet, Gropius, Mondrian(1976).

I recommend Gay's book highly to psychoanalysts for his fascinating and thoughtful elaboration of the aggressive side of Victorian life. But I recommend it less because of its psychoanalytic focus than because Gay tells a story well worth our knowing. This is good historical writing. Gay's organizing focus in this volume is how aggression is managed—how it is expressed, modulated, contained, avoided, and nurtured—together with an assessment of constructive versus destructive results of such aggression in society.

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