[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The central concern of this paper is to unravel the links between men's use of violence and their perceptions and understandings of the functions that violence serves. To these ends, the accounts of twenty violent men, convicted of either killing or violently assaulting other men are examined. The interview data suggest that regardless of the specific nature of violent acts, i.e whether they involve lethal outcomes or not, or whether they are the result of some spontaneous disagreement or are planned, some common goals seem to unite many of the acts. Specifically these goals appear to revolve around the need to control other individuals as well as one's own social identity and are intrinsically linked to the men's wish to project and protect a particular kind of masculine image.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A coherent psychoanalytic theory of violence has been hindered by the very few psychoanalysts who have actually worked with violent patients, by political allegiance to certain psychoanalytic schools of thought, a naïve belief that all violence is typically not intentional, but rather a problem of impulse control, and the lack of understanding of recent neurobiological findings concerning aggression. Although intensive psychoanalytic treatment is usually not appropriate for violent individuals, the authors assert that a comprehensive understanding of violent behavior from a psychoanalytic perspective is of relevance for all mental health practitioners interested in the nature of human aggression. Actual violence is informed by bodily enactments and regressions to primitive subjective states; the effects of trauma on representation and symbolic functioning; the demarcation between affective and predatory violence; and understanding how all of our mental processes, including cognitions, wishes, memories, unconscious phantasies, ego-defenses, and object relations, are originally rooted in the body. The authors review the historical psychoanalytic literature on violence and critique contemporary psychoanalytic theorizing regarding the etiology of violent behavior in the light of some neurobiological research findings. They conclude with treatment recommendations for those clinicians whose patients have been violent toward others.
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