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(1973). American Journal of Psychiatry. CXXVIII, 1971: The Psychiatrist and the Violence Commission. W. Walter Menninger. pp. 431-435.. Psychoanal Q., 42:311.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Journal of Psychiatry. CXXVIII, 1971: The Psychiatrist and the Violence Commission. W. Walter Menninger. pp. 431-435.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:311

American Journal of Psychiatry. CXXVIII, 1971: The Psychiatrist and the Violence Commission. W. Walter Menninger. pp. 431-435.

This is the lead article of a special section on aggression and violence which is recommended in its entirety. The section includes sociological, anthropological, psychoanalytic, and learning theory studies on aggression. Of particular interest is this honest and revealing report from Dr. Menninger of the resistances he encountered and the contributions he made while serving as psychiatrist on a Presidential fact-finding commission on violence in 1968. Since psychoanalysts are increasingly involved in today's political and cultural flux, we may readily benefit from this report.

Particular difficulties were encountered in the group's expectation of the psychiatrist's omniscience about human behavior; the nonpsychiatrists were occasionally angered and disappointed when Menninger disclaimed omniscience in explaining all factors involved in violence in the culture. His attempts to understand motivations were seen as condoning crime and violence, and his reluctance to judge was seen as amoral. His contributions occasionally aroused anxiety in the other members, for instance, when he called for self-reflection upon rigidly held attitudes and when his introduction of multiple factors and overdetermination of behavior interfered with certain members' need for closure. His contributions included de-emotionalizing issues in order to see them more clearly, identifying emotional factors rather than answering and resolving them (an analytic stance), and above all, reminding his nonpsychiatric colleagues of the importance of concern for the individual. The frankness and instructive nature of this paper may prove helpful to analysts participating in community discussion and action.

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Article Citation

(1973). American Journal of Psychiatry. CXXVIII, 1971. Psychoanal. Q., 42:311

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