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Towards A Psychoanalytic Understanding Of War


Inspired by the Horneyan concept of a morality of evolution and applying the psychoanalytic method, I researched a body of scientific literature to understand the status of our society today. History, linked to natural history, is the narrative of my patient, the human species. I endeavored to find if there was a repressed trauma in the history of humanity that could explain the symptomatic, recurrent phenomenon of war. In Einstein’s terms, we all condemn war and yet, paradoxically, we engage in it again and again allowing might to supersede right. I found, first, that war is not a natural but a purely historical phenomenon; second, that psychoanalysis is a qualified method to understand the phenomenon of war; and third, that, in the history of subjectivity, the slavery of women who had led the species for two-hundred-thousand years before and were then deprived of their transcendence in civil society, offered an answer to the puzzle. Most remarkable is the fact that academia has repeatedly ignored the issue when evidence is presented. I arrived at the conclusion that true gender parity in any society offers a model for substantive equality and space for peaceful expression of our inevitable differences.

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Correspondence to Mario Rendón.

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Mario Rendón, MD, Training and Supervising Analyst, American Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Centro Psicoanalítico de Madrid; Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, New York Medical College; Former Director of the Department of Psychiatry, Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center; Former Editor, American Journal of Psychoanalysis.

* This paper was given at the virtual conference “In the Time of War” of the American Journal of Psychoanalysis/Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis, on April 10, 2022, in response to the war in Ukraine.

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Rendón, M. Towards A Psychoanalytic Understanding Of War. Am J Psychoanal 82, 177–188 (2022).

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  • war
  • psychoanalysis
  • instinctual disposition
  • trauma
  • patriarchal coup
  • repression
  • gender parity