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Wilson, E., Jr. (1987). Psyche. XXXVIII, 1984: How Do We Acquire a "Constitutional Intolerance" for War? Observations on the Einstein-Freud Correspondence Fifty Years Later. Klaus Horn. Pp. 1083-1104.. Psychoanal Q., 56:603-604.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psyche. XXXVIII, 1984: How Do We Acquire a "Constitutional Intolerance" for War? Observations on the Einstein-Freud Correspondence Fifty Years Later. Klaus Horn. Pp. 1083-1104.
In his exchange of letters with Einstein, Freud gave a mixed explanation of war: one part concerned power and the other concerned expression of the death wish. The problem with this explanation is that, though Freud qualified it as "psychological," he explained destructiveness in biological terms. Horn wants to demythologize the death wish and to provide a sociological explanation. He hopes that such an analysis, if successful, will carry us a step beyond Freud's pessimism. It might also explain those "constitutional" exceptions who, like Freud and Einstein in the correspondence, are pacifists. The early nineteenth century view of "nature," as opposed to and outside of the work of man, changed to a view of natural instinct, an inner necessity anchored in the body. Freud believed that civilization, as the expression of these inner drives, cannot be radically altered. The question was, to what extent can social relationships bring people together and, as a "second nature," minimize the effects of destructiveness? Horn argues that humans are social as well as natural beings and have been able to win control over nature only through the mediation of speech in social organization. Any view that speaks of "human nature" separate from this social organization is an abstraction. Subjectivity and the whole person are inextricably related to the complex social organization around the subject. The history
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of instincts is involved in this social network, and pure instinct is an abstraction. Drives are manifest only as vicissitudes of drives, thus implying socialization. Psychoanalytic treatment obviously follows this conceptualization, for, unlike medicine, it does not treat the individual as a thing, through surgery and medication; it deals with the whole context of an individual's life. From this notion of social commitment as a "second nature" that is perhaps more important than the "first nature," the author derives an approach to the question of war more hopeful than Freud's. War results from the loss of this socialization and an attempt at reification of and domination over individuals. The pessimistic view that man's phylogenetic inheritance can only lead to war, death, and destruction is unwarranted, for it leaves out of account man as a social animal.
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Wilson, E., Jr. (1987). Psyche. XXXVIII, 1984. Psychoanal. Q., 56:603-604