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Bornstein, M. (1982). Prologue. Psychoanal. Inq., 2(1):5-9.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 2(1):5-9


Melvin Bornstein, M.D.

and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.


The problem of aggression prevails over human existence. It is expressed in violence and in highly subtle forms of behavior. It is experienced as arising from demonic sources and the result of calculated deliberation. It is integral to growth and development. Yet, aggression has not been adequately assimilated into the clinical theory and metapsychology of psychoanalysis. In an effort to contribute to the study of aggression, the papers in this issue are devoted to investigations based on variations of classical psychoanalytic methodology—studies from direct observation of normal and idiosyncratic children, psychosocial phenomena, genetics, and psychohistory. Turning to other disciplines and utilizing variations of the classical method of psychoanalytic investigation may be of value in understanding aggression. Moreover, a multifaceted interdisciplinary approach to a psychoanalytic investigation is indeed in the tradition of Freud's and Hartmann's efforts to treat psychoanalysis as a general psychology and a natural science.

For many years, the late Eli Marcovitz chaired the Colloquium for The American Psychoanalytic Association on “Aggression: An Interdisciplinary Approach.” Therefore, we invited him to write an overview on the topic. He begins the overview by highlighting a problem inherent in any discussion of aggression. Depending upon the perspective that is used, the term has multiple definitions that have been the source of confusion and ambiguity. Aggression can be defined in experiential, interactional, interpersonal and intrapsychic terms.

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