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Meagher, H.M. (2001). Psychoanalytic Understanding of Violence and Suicide. Edited by Rosine Jozef Perelberg. London/New York: Routledge, 1999. 177 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 70(2):495-499.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 70(2):495-499

Psychoanalytic Understanding of Violence and Suicide. Edited by Rosine Jozef Perelberg. London/New York: Routledge, 1999. 177 pp.

Review by:
H. Michael Meagher

This book consists of a series of papers written by, with the exception of Donald Campbell's contribution, members of the Young Adult Research Group at the Anna Freud Centre. Most of them have been previously published, but it is good to have them collected in a book. Central to the book are the analyses of six young adults who engaged in violent aggression toward others or in serious suicidal behavior. The research program provided subsidized analyses for many of these patients, and the study group provided the analysts with support and a forum for discussing their difficult work. As Leonard Shengold reminds us in his foreword, analysts are not accustomed to dealing with violence, the actual infliction of bodily harm on others, or with violent patients in our consulting rooms. We are much more comfortable with and skilled at understanding violent fantasies. There is much we do not know about the minds of persons who lose control of their aggression and turn to violent action. This book attempts to approach such understanding.

After an introduction and a chapter reviewing the psychoanalytic literature on violence and aggression by the editor, six cases are presented—four of persons who had committed violent acts against others and two who had seriously attempted suicide. (The cases were contributed by Peter Fonagy and Mary Target, Donald Campbell, Rosine J. Perelberg, Anthony Bateman, Rosemary Davies, and Joan Schachter.) Not all types of violence are considered; for example, spousal abuse, child abuse, rape, and predatory violence are not discussed.

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