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Harris, A. (1998). Aggression: Pleasures and Dangers. Psychoanal. Inq., 18(1):31-44.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18(1):31-44

Aggression: Pleasures and Dangers

Adrienne Harris, Ph.D.

In trying to work out a perspective on aggression both theoretically and as lived clinical experience, I have found myself in the midst of a contradiction, a quite palpable conflict in my own use of and relation to aggression. I have written and argued for the importance of women owning disavowed aggression (Harris, 1986, 1987). I have thought this was a crucial advantage to women in many spheres of experience. I have been convinced that difficulties with aggression, internally and interpersonally, have been damaging for women in groups, including feminist and political women's groups (Harris, 1986). In working out this critique I have drawn on work in psychoanalytic feminism (Benjamin, 1988; Dimen, 1991; Goldner, 1991; Flax, 1990), which has attended to women's conflicted relationship to aggression in many forms.

Wanting to analyze and thus to dissolve some of the conflicts many women experience in relation to aggression must have some self-healing impulse for me. In truth, I am fascinated by the topic of aggression in all its lively intense forms. I think of myself as aggressive and must confess to a lifelong, highly competitive streak.

At the same time I have been extremely critical of male and patriarchal institutional forms of aggression. I have been involved in and profoundly affected by the past 3 decades of antiwar movements, and I have written about the women's peace movements and the practice of pacifism (King and Harris, 1986).

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