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Stone, L. (1979). Remarks on Certain Unique Conditions of Human Aggression (The Hand, Speech, and the Use of Fire). J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 27:27-63.

(1979). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 27:27-63

Remarks on Certain Unique Conditions of Human Aggression (The Hand, Speech, and the Use of Fire)

Leo Stone, M.D.


I have tried to single out for study, from the limitless complexity of human physical and mental life, three decisively fundamental elements, which, individually and synergistically, in biological and psychological spheres, have contributed importantly to the distinctiveness of human aggressive behavior and psychology and their transformations. These are: (1) the remarkable development of the human hand; (2) the primordial role of human speech, especially in drive economy; (3) the purposive utilization of fire. The pervasive dynamic importance of human orality and its vicissitudes, in relation to its phylogenetic background, has been stressed throughout. In this connection, the revolutionary role of fire has been brought into drive-economic relationship with the other two critical human instrumentalities. It is suggested that in its myriad roles, ranging from cooking to the prodigious function of sacrifice in human history and psychology, the decisive position of the role of fire in the emergence and development of homo sapiens may conceivably include a significant "overdetermining" position among the multiple elements conditioning the appearance of human speech and language.

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