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(1960). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. V, 1957: A Consideration of the Etiology of Prejudice. Brian Bird. Pp. 490-513.. Psychoanal Q., 29:285-286.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. V, 1957: A Consideration of the Etiology of Prejudice. Brian Bird. Pp. 490-513.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:285-286

Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. V, 1957: A Consideration of the Etiology of Prejudice. Brian Bird. Pp. 490-513.

A review of the scant literature on prejudice reveals that all the authors agree on the Oedipal origin of this symptom. Bird's contention is that prejudice keeps aggression from being acted out and thus can serve as an important and constructive ego function. He states that the cause of any case of prejudice should be looked for in an unsuspected rivalrous relationship to a more fortunate or desired third party. An illuminating case report of a 'liberal' woman describes an acute and short-lived attack of prejudice. She had displaced her erotic transference impulses onto the object of prejudice due to her fear of being ridden by her impulses.

Bird thinks that any fixed opinion, no matter how reasonable, well-founded, or well-documented, should be suspected of being a prejudice. He discusses lucidly the relationship of prejudice and status, and thinks that prejudice is a defense against strong aspirations to a higher status in life, the wish being displaced onto the oppressed race and the oppressing group, taking upon itself the anticipated critical reaction of the race toward which it feels unconscious envy and desire. He views the oppressing group as incorporating the superego indignation of a 'higher' race and projecting its own guilt to a 'lower' race. Bird contrives the word 'incorprojection' to describe this state of affairs. High or low status should eliminate any individual of any race as an object of prejudice.

With the absence of unconscious guilt, there is no need for prejudice as a defense to control the acting out of aggression by allowing verbal expression of hostility. Guilt is not felt because the accusations are false and are really self-accusations. Due to this defensive aspect of prejudice, it implies the active functioning of at least a halfway normal ego. Bird thinks this is an absolute contrast

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to racial abuse as it occurred in Nazi Germany. Normal prejudice is reviewed as self-criticism gone wrong, or not fully developed, and is regarded as a normal step in development. Pathological prejudice is viewed as either a return to this childhood state or a fixation at that level due to the ego's inability to allow certain aggressive impulses to be acted upon, as well as its inability to tolerate the guilt and self-criticism generated by them. Prejudice is viewed as not being without a positive measure of value for the individual and in a broad sense for society as a whole.

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Article Citation

(1960). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. V, 1957. Psychoanal. Q., 29:285-286

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