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Galler, R. Gould, D. Levy, J. (1998). Prologue. Psychoanal. Inq., 18(1):1-7.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18(1):1-7


Roberta Galler, C.S.W. Issue Editor, Donna Gould, Ph.D. and Jane Levy, C.S.W. Issue Editor

Throughout psychoanalytic history debate has raged both about the fundamental nature of human nature and how best to explain the seeming ubiquitousness of human aggression. As psychoanalysts, how we understand and react to what we perceive as aggression in ourselves and our patients reflects major theoretical choices and professional identifications, positions that are often held with a remarkable degree of passion.

Recognizing that in this era of theoretical diversity this debate remains a central one, the Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology held a conference called Aggression: Contemporary Controversies. As self psychologists we were interested in revisiting our own theory on aggression and asking analysts of other contemporary perspectives to do likewise, with the hope that a lively and enriching dialogue would develop that would enhance all our thinking. This issue of Psychoanalytic Inquiry grew out of that highly stimulating forum.

Our goal as organizers of the conference (and now as editors of this journal issue) was to facilitate an open exploration and exchange of contemporary views about aggression. Since much previous debate had centered on upholding or disputing such concepts as the death instinct and the aggressive drive, we chose initially to focus on nondrive perspectives. However, since in the course of the conference some of the participants did position themselves vis-à-vis drive theory, we decided to invite an additional paper from a contemporary Freudian to round out the discussion in this journal.

In planning the conference we functioned as a study/clinical working group in which we shared and debated ideas and clinical experiences in order to shape a conference that we ourselves would be interested in attending and from which we and others could learn. Out of this process some fundamental guiding interests and values emerged.

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