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Marcovitz, E. Slap, J.W. (1979). Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Psychoanalytic Theories of Aggression. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 27:655-664.

(1979). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 27:655-664

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Psychoanalytic Theories of Aggression

Eli Marcovitz, M.D. and Joseph W. Slap, M.D.

Eli Marcovitz opened the panel by giving an account of the activities of the Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Problems with the Psychoanalytic Theory of Aggression, which has met for six years. Essentially this group has wrestled with the question of why people hurt one another. Does hostile aggression arise inevitably from innate drives genetically or hormonally programmed, or is aggression always learned and reactive to frustration, trauma, danger, or other external influences? The participants in the Colloquium have been impressed by the wide range of forces and conditions that influence aggressive behavior.

Studies show that, in some species of mice, genetic factors determine the degree of destructive aggressive behavior while, in other instances, genetic factors may require certain kinds of experience at critical times in order for destructive behavior to become manifest. Extrapolating to humans, we might expect certain groups or families to have greater or lesser tendencies toward violence regardless of environmental factors while others would show violence only after being exposed to facilitating conditions. Given the complexity of human behavior, however, we cannot draw firm conclusions; we can only be alerted to possibilities deserving investigation.

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