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Abstracts of Interesting Papers
Brief notes on papers that caught our attention.

Sociological Perspectives

Publisher Allyn & Bacon have an extensive set of Sociology Links, including a page on Violence and Abuse . This site tends to be unedited, with little careful selection. Nonetheless, some useful links.

Rollie E. 'ezy' Dorsett of Austin Community College maintains an extensive set of Sociology Web Sites. Topics in several sections, e.g., Deviance, are relevant to the study of violence.

Anthropological Perspectives

Wim van Binsbergen has an introductory piece (it introduced a conference on Anthropology on Violence) on Violence in anthropology: Theoretical and personal remarks

Robert Hamerton-Kelly discusses A Religious Anthropology of Violence: The Theory of Rene Girard

The governing theme of the story, which we have already canvassed, is that human desire is radically imitative; we learn from the other what to desire, thus come to desire the same thing because the other desires it, and so fall into competition that turns violent.
As the hominids emerge this hierarchy breaks down, because their mimetic desire has greater force and they compete without inhibition and without pause. The hominid group thus falls into a crisis of violent disorder as converging desires lead to violent competition. The violence then takes on a mimetic life of its own as hominids copy not only the initial desires but also the violent desires, not only those that take the form of acquisitiveness but also those that take the form of vengeance. Because desire is contagious violence is like a pandemic....Society is fundamentally the unity of the lynch mob.
Psychoanalytic Perspectives

Here is the classic Einstein-Freud Correspondence (1931-1932) on war and peace: Why War?

Of course, check out my web site of Psychoanalytic Resources Online

Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society

If we are to begin to solve our most serious social problems, we must understand their psychological roots. Many of these problems, including violence, drug abuse, irresponsible sexuality, and intolerance in its various forms, will be extremely difficult if not impossible to solve unless we address the psychological roots that are the immediate causes of these destructive behaviors.

Robert M. Young (UK) & Toma Tomov (Bulgaria) edit an online journal devoted to "bring(ing) psychoanalytic and related psychodynamic approaches to bear on group, institutional, cultural and political processes." Human Relations, Authority, and Justice: Experiences and Critiques

Peter Fonagy has two papers available online: The Psychoanalysis of Violence and Male Perpetrators of Violence Against Women: An Attachment Theory Perspective

This paper proposes an attachment theory formulation of violent acts perpetrated by men against women, usually in the context of sexual relationships. It is proposed that relationship violence may be seen as an exaggerated response of a disorganized attachment system. It is related to a disorganized attachment pattern in infancy coupled with a history of abuse and an absent male parental figure. The author proposes a theory based on a psychoanalytic understanding of the development of the self and highlights similarities between the clinical presentation of male perpetrators and those with borderline personality disorder.

Stuart Twemlow has a paper available: The roots of violence: Converging psychoanalytic explanatory models for power struggles and violence in schools, which discusses Columbine, among other things

This paper demonstrates that several psychoanalytic models taken together converge to collectively explain school violence and power struggles better than each does alone. Using my own experience In doing psychoanalytically Informed community intervention, I approach the problem of school violence from a combination of Adlerian, Stollerian, dialectical social systems, and Kleiri—Bion perspectives. This integrated model is then applied to the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado.
Psychological & Psychiatric Perspectives

As the world contemplates the abuse at Abu Ghraib and other "detention facilities" [aka "concentration camps"] around the world, people have increasingly drawn parallels between what occurred there and the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, conducted by Philip G. Zimbardo in 1971, see, e.g., Simulated Prison in '71 Showed a Fine Line Between `Normal' and `Monster'. [See also, Stanford Prison Experiment related links.] On May 4 NPR interviewed Dr. Zimbardo regarding the connections: Prison Psychology and the Stanford Prison Experiment [connection to listen]. Dr. Zimbardo has also sent an e-mail to colleagues with Notes on the Social Psychology of Iraqi Prison Abuse. Here is a different version \ of the Zimbardo piece, from the Boston Globe: Power turns good soldiers into 'bad apples'. Zimbardo also has a book chapter available: A Situationist Perspective on the Psychology of Evil: Understanding how good people are transformed into perpetrators.

Willem H. J. Martens, Director of the "W. Kahn Institute of Theoretical Psychiatry and Neuroscience, has an article: Constructive Functions of Aggression in Psychopaths

Psychopathic aggression may have constructive functions, which might be involved in enhancement of social-emotional and moral development of psychopaths that might lead to improvement or remission. Furthermore, it can contribute to the realization and preservation of self-structure, -esteem, -respect, -knowledge; reality testing; social awareness; a new mental, emotional balance and associated healthier neurobiological functioning; and to obtain useful feedback information from other individuals. More research is needed into a) the hidden motives of aggression, b) the precise etiological routes from the original motives into specific expressions and dimensions of aggressive behavior, c) and different constructive roles, which may be related to aggression in (the different categories) psychopaths in order to develop and provide adequate therapeutic and preventive strategies.
Neurobiological Perspectives

Here is an introductory account of The Biological Basis of Aggression

Juvenile Violence

The National Youth Violence Resource Center has extensive resources on the causes of and efforts to prevent or intervene to reduce youth violence. Among their resources is a useful summary of Youth Violence Research [also available in pdf]. They also have a very useful Frequently Asked Questions For Researchers, answering such questions as: "What are the risk factors for bullying?" (or for being bullied).

The US Surgeon general's Report: Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeon General is available online. (HTML only).

The 1999 Report to Congress on Juvenile Violence Research from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The National Institute of Mental Health has available an extensive report on Taking Stock of Risk Factors for Child/Youth Externalizing Behavior Problems (pdf), the result of an expert panel.

Scott Menard has prepared a report on Short- and Long-Term Consequences of Adolescent Victimization for OJJDP.

One of the most successful urban strategies to reduce youth homicides and gang-related gun violence has been The Boston Strategy to Prevent Youth Violence. Their web site describes the strategy and has many resources on youth violence.

Family Violence

The US Dept. of Justice Office of Justice Programs has numerous Federal government research and statistical resources on family violence. For example, the report Youth Victimization: Prevalence and Implications is a useful document on victimization.

Gun Violence

Dick Dahl has written for Join Together Online a description of successful efforts to counter gun violence in Boston and Chicago: A Tale of Two Cities: Fighting Gun Violence Requires Broad, Unified Effort

Relational Aggression

A site aimed at the general public with material on relational aggression. Like many such sources, it seems to focus virtually exclusively on the negative side of this type of behavior. Relational Aggression.

Nina S. Mounts has an introductory piece on relational aggression, the process of hurting others through the manipulation of relationships. What about girls? Are they really not aggressive?

A new study suggests a biological link between physical pain and the pain of social exclusion: Images Show a Snub Really Is Like Kick in the Gut (news article), actual paper by Naomi Eisenberger, Matthew Lieberman, & Kipling Williams from Science: Does Rejection Hurt? An fMRI Study of Social Exclusion; comment in Science by Jaak Panksepp: Feeling the Pain of Social Loss. To listen to a BBC discussion, click here.

[From news article] But there also seems to be a defense mechanism to prevent the pain of rejection from becoming overwhelming. "We also saw this area in the prefrontal cortex. The more it is active in response to pain, the less subjective pain you feel," Lieberman said. "This part of the brain inhibits the more basic response." In the volunteers, those who had the most activity here reported the least distress in response to the snub. It seemed to be involved in consciously thinking about the pain, Lieberman said, but said the area needed more study.

Relational aggression has been linked to present, as opposed to future, time perspective: Potential Protective Factors for Relational Aggression: Future Time Perspective and Activity Involvement.


The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has a flyer: Research-Based Articles and Books on Bully/Peer Victimization (pdf).

Dan Olweus has been a leader, if not the leader, in studying bullying. his: web site lists his extensive publications in this area.

The American Psychological Association online journal, Prevention & Treatment has published an important paper on factors affecting the success of what is perhaps THE major anti-bullying intervention: Predicting Teachers’ and Schools’ Implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program: A Multilevel Study, with 3 commentaries.

In summary, the meaningful results from our study indicate that teachers were the key agents of change with regard to adoption and implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in school.

Operation Respect "disseminates educational resources that are designed to establish a climate that reduces the emotional and physical cruelty some children inflict upon each other by behaviors such as ridicule, bullying and-in extreme cases-violence." It was founded by Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul & Mary.

There is a major European research project to study Nature and prevention of bullying: The causes and nature of bullying and social exclusion in schools, and ways of preventing them. It includes a discussion of the two major ways of assessing bullying; Final Report of the Working Group on General Survey Questionnaires and Nomination Methods Concerning Bullying and other materials on measuring bullying and related behaviors.

Mike Eslea of the University of Central Lancashire has a site devoted to research on bullying: Bullyweb with information on his papers on the topic and links to other sources.

Other forms of Aggression
Violence Prevention

The Center for the Prevention of School Violence is maintained by the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Useful resources for all community programs include the Community Tool Box (CTB) from the University of Kansas. "The Tool Box provides over 6,000 pages of practical information to support your work in promoting community health and development. The core of the Tool Box is the "topic sections" that include practical guidance for the different tasks necessary to promote community health and development. For instance, there are sections on leadership, strategic planning, community assessment, grant writing, and evaluation to give just a few examples. Each section includes a description of the task, advantages of doing it, step-by-step guidelines, examples, checklists of points to review, and training materials."

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) has numerous materials available for suicide prevention programs, many of which can be adopted to other aspects of youth violence prevention. These include the SPRC Library Catalog of resources selected by a professional librarian.

Criminal Justice

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service has many resources, including a searchable database of 170,000 abstracts of criminal justice publications.



The Violence Policy Center focuses on

"working to fight firearms violence through research, education, and advocacy. As a gun control think tank, the VPC analyzes a wide range of current firearm issues and provides information to policymakers, journalists, public health professionals, grassroots activists, and members of the general public"

Related Social Problems

The Federal Substance Abuse, Mental Health Services Administration or SAMHSA maintains the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Information (NCADI), which has the Prevention Online web site, for detailed information on substance abuse (including epidemiology, prevention, and treatment. They have hundreds of free publications on all aspects of drug abuse.

Research Resources

Check out our BGSP Research Resources web site, with resources on psychoanalytic research, psychology, neurobiology, and research methods.

Also, our Statistics Resources page, with both substantive and software resources.

Complied by Stephen Soldz

Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis
1581 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02446

Also check out my other BGSP web sites:

Statistics Resources
BGSP Research Resources
Psychoanalytic Resources Online

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