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Williams, A.H. (1975). Human Destructiveness: By Anthony Storr. London: Chatto & Heinemann for Sussex Univ. Press. 1972. Pp. 115.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:113.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:113

Human Destructiveness: By Anthony Storr. London: Chatto & Heinemann for Sussex Univ. Press. 1972. Pp. 115.

Review by:
A. Hyatt Williams

Dr Storr has written a very interesting and challenging book about the various factors which contribute to man's aggressiveness and destructiveness. These derive from the position of human beings in the animal kingdom, and consequently have a biological basis. Some factors which are related to later aggressiveness are derived from the early nurture of the human baby; not the least important of these is the very long period of helplessness and dependency which is inevitably associated with a considerable amount of frustration. Finally, intrapsychic factors as well as psychosocial and biological factors are fitted together by Dr Storr in a persuasive monograph. It is good to find the work of the ethologists and also social anthropologists drawn upon and linked with the work of psychoanalysts and analytical psychologists. Dr Storr follows psychoanalytic views a long way but disagrees with some quite widely accepted views, e.g. he dispenses with the idea of primary life and death instincts as put forward by Freud in 1920 and further developed by some later workers, such as Melanie Klein. He does, however, recognize the two kinds of anxiety: persecutory—the earlier and more primitive one, and depressive—the later development, and the polarizations of good and bad, idealized and denigrated objects or part-objects from the infant eye-view are considered in some detail. Dr Storr draws attention to the well-documented fact that young children who have insecure backgrounds are almost certainly set for trouble later on, and much of this later expression of disability is in the form of aggressive and destructive behaviour.

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