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Arlow, J.A. (1973). Perspectives on Aggression in Human Adaptation. Psychoanal Q., 42:178-184.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:178-184

Perspectives on Aggression in Human Adaptation

Jacob A. Arlow, M.D.

It would be hard to imagine a more appropriate subject toward which those working in the fields of psychiatry, sociology, and the humanities should bend their efforts. In our age, aggression and its role in human affairs have become part of the crisis of man. Out of his staggering capacity for adaptation, man has developed instrumentalities of violence that could put an end to the history of this planet. The issues involved have been drawn with such clarity by Daniels, Gilula, and Ochberg (1970) in their recent book, Violence and the Struggle for Existence, that I quote them directly.

Violence is unique to no particular region, nation, or time. Centuries ago man survived primarily as a nomadic hunter relying on violent aggression for both food and protection. Even when becoming agricultural and sedentary, man struggled against nature, and survival still required violent aggression, especially for maintaining territory when food was scarce.

Then in a moment of evolution man's energies suddenly produced the age of technology. Instead of adapting mainly by way of biological evolution, we are now increasingly subject to the effects and demands of cultural evolution. Instead of having to adapt to our environment, we now can adapt our environment to our needs.

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