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Aggression, Time, and Understanding


Aggression, Time, and Understanding: Contributions to the Evolution of Gestalt Therapy. Frank-M. Staemmler






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except for Paul Goodman's amazing restatement of the body of Perls's work and Goodman's section on "Verbalizing and Poetry" (Loc: 170)

there is nothing in Perls, Hefferline, and Goodman that is not in Ego, Hunger and Aggression. (Kitzler 2006, 46) (Loc: 171)

In what follows we will outline the positions that we have worked out with respect to Perls's theory of aggression and to the therapeutic treatment of human aggression. (Loc: 180)

make up Perls's theory of aggression: "destroying" in the sense of "de-structuring" (to break into parts), "assimilation" and "life supporting" or, as Perls wrote in other places, "growth." (Loc: 286)

Perls's theory of aggression: "destroying" in the sense of "de-structuring" (to break into parts), "assimilation" and "life supporting" or, as Perls wrote in other places, "growth." (Loc: 286)

the attempt to overcome Freud's negative view of aggression as an outcome of the "death instinct" and to link it instead with the positive force of life. (Loc: 288)

For Perls aggression is a "biological force" (1969a, p. 5) in the service of life that is closely related to what he calls "assimilation" (see ibid.): (Loc: 290)

For Perls aggression is a "biological force" (1969a, p. 5) in the service of life that is closely related to what he calls "assimilation" (see ibid.): (Loc: 290)

By biting, chewing, and digesting the original structure of food is "destroyed" and transformed so that it becomes similar to the organism (Latin; ad-similatio) and usable for survival and growth. (Loc: 295)

"Aggression has one aim in common with most emotions: not senseless discharge, but rather application" (1947, p. 116). It is meaningful mostly because it enables the organism to satisfy its hunger: "The destructive function, although in itself not an instinct ... [is] a very powerful instrument of the hunger instinct..." (ibid., p. 110). (Loc: 297)

The Personality [sic!], like the organism, is dependent for its continuance on a supply of Material, intellectual, social and such-like, from the environment.... Just as organic assimilation is essential to animal growth, so intellectual, moral and social assimilation on the part of the Personality [sic!] becomes the central fact in its development and self-realisation. (Smuts, 1926/1973, p. 301; see Perls, 1947, p. 105) (Loc: 324)

Perls maintains that "... aggression is required to assimilate the world. If we don't assimilate what is available, we can't make it our own part of ourselves. It remains a foreign body in our system – something which Freud recognized as introjection" (1973, p. 186). (Loc: 340)

on the psychological level (Loc: 343)

aggression is a necessary means for people's quarrel with the (mental) world, without which people would not be able to destroy (destructure) mental content they are confronted with and to come up with their own responses to the world. He (Loc: 344)

"Thus aggression is essential for survival and growth" (Perls, 1975, p. 33). (Loc: 345)

he only refers to the "intrapsychic" realm. Although the world, other people, and their opinions do exist, the process through which the aggressive destructuring takes place so far only appears as the internal (Loc: 348)

aggression is not an act by which a person intervenes in the world, not even an emotion expressed or a feeling experienced, but exclusively an "intrapsychic" function. (Loc: 350)

So we have to state: wherever in Perls's theory the terms "aggression" or "destruction" occur in the context of biological or psychological "metabolism" subserving assimilation, survival, and growth they acquire a meaning that does not conform to their colloquial use. (Loc: 357)

in everyday speech and in scientific psychology "aggression" usually denotes an offensive attack intending the infliction of harm – frequently associated with emotions of anger or rage – either on an interpersonal or an international level (see reference point 6). Of course, with (Loc: 359)

this unusual application of the term "aggression" the danger of misunderstandings is given; (Loc: 362)

Such misunderstandings would have to be traced back to a sloppy reception of Ego Hunger and Aggression, if Perls had used the term in his book only in the sense he used it in context with metabolism and assimilation. (Loc: 363)

Perls's notion of aggression and the cathartic practice he derived from it have left visible traces in subsequent generations of Gestalt therapists. The famous and infamous hitting on pillows and yelling at empty chairs, which Yontef once branded as "boom-boom-boom therapy" (1991, p. 7), has become less fashionable in recent years, even though it has not yet died out (Loc: 426)

What looks like the description of a "natural" process here ("the organism energizes itself") of course has nothing to do with 'nature,' but with a questionable notion that our culture in general and its psychoanalytical subculture in particular has created: (Loc: 437)

that "in extreme cases destructive rage or annihilating hate" should represent "normal contact functions," in our view points to an equivocal notion of normality. (Loc: 438)

The "dental-aggressive" examination of Perls's theory of aggression among Gestalt therapists has largely been missing; valuable (Loc: 447)

Frech (2000) or Wheeler (2006) are rare exceptions (Loc: 448)

put forward by integrative therapist Hilarion Petzold (see, for instance, 2006). (Loc: 449)

Perls's theory is in gross contrast with a long tradition of human experience in general and with a large number of research results in particular that today make its value look more than dubious (see (Loc: 452)

the task of teeth is to destroy structures, to de-structure food and to prepare it for assimilation. According to Perls, this process transforms the meaning of aggression and turns it into a "life supporting assignment" (Perls 1997, p. 49). (Loc: 457)

even for Perls himself this looked so inadequate that in a next step he needed to reinterpret "destruction" in a positive sense: (Loc: 464)

This erroneous and pretty laborious construction would have been superfluous if Perls had started his considerations with the useful terminological distinction between "decomposition" on the one hand and "destruction" on the other hand. Admittedly, (Loc: 465)

"Aggression," it is maintained, is derived from ad-gredi (➲ 5) that originally in Latin only meant to "approach" something "Aggression is the 'step toward' the object of appetite or hostility," Perls et al, (1951, p. 342) write. Hence "aggression" would indicate something like "initiative" (Loc: 469)

but at a closer look it proves to be entirely unhistorical. It rips the term out of its historical (Roman) context and tries to 'transplant' it across millennia into today's language by simply disregarding the change in meaning that has taken place since antiquity: even if it was correct that aggredi at that time meant to approach something in a more or less neutral fashion, today "aggression" denotes something different (Loc: 476)

In contemporary psychology, "Aggression is any form of behavior directed toward the goal of harming or injuring another living being who is motivated to avoid such treatment" (Baron & Richardson 1994, p. 7). "Harming or injuring" refers to "... damaging, breaching, destroying and annihilating; it also includes 'iniuriam facere' [Latin: to do injustice] ... (Loc: 479)

in scientific systems certain terms are defined in more specific ways, because their is a need for more precision than in everyday parlance. Perls, however, does not define "aggression" more specifically, but to the contrary, less precisely. This does not lead to a gain in conciseness, but to adulteration and confusion. (Loc: 488)

The category error that is implicit in the metaphor of "mental metabolism" has negative consequences for the theory that is based on it. (Loc: 515)

Last but not least he dedicated his book Ego, Hunger and Aggression "to the memory of Max Wertheimer." By 1945 Wertheimer had published his cognitive psychology under the title Productive Thinking, which made Perls's digestive psychology and pathology about "mental food" (1947, pp. 12211) or "mental indigestion" (ibid., p. 103), respectively, already look out-dated when it was first released. (Loc: 524)

mental reflections are characterized by something which cannot seriously attributed to digestive organs and to which Wertheimer's book title clearly points: creativity. (Loc: 532)

Their structure is dialogical (see Bakhtin 1986) – also something one cannot seriously say about digestion. "... the mind is no sort of substance at all – metaphysically, minds are not a bit like rocks and cats and kidneys" (McGinn, 1989, p. 22 – italics in original). (Loc: 534)

"mental food" (in contradistinction to physical food) at first always needs to be taken in ("introjected") – even if at a later point in time it is criticized or rejected. You first have to understand something before you can question it in a meaningful way. The text at hand is an example. (Loc: 544)

the adjustment processes that take place between a person and her environment. However, if this metaphor becomes the dominant measure (as it does in Ego, Hunger and Aggression), then adjustment takes place in only one direction, i. e. the person adjusts the environment to herself (she "assimilates" it) and not also herself to the environment (➲ 9, see ref. point 27).8 (Loc: 551)

developments in Gestalt therapy. They show, for example, in all variants of the "process of contact" (Perls et al. 1951, pp. 403f. – ➲ 10).10 In all these models the environment – including other human beings! – takes the shape of a lifeless constant: following the metabolism metaphor (which in most cases is exemplified by food, sometimes also by some other object that does not show any autonomous original activity),11 that object is thought to be at the (hungry) individual's disposal without constraints (Loc: 563)

This is "... the individualistic ideal of destructuring the environment as if in vacuo" (Saner 1989, p. 64). We have never embarked on this model. To our surprise, besides Saner it seems that Gordon Wheeler is one of the few who have realized its simplicity. As customarily drawn .., the Cycle gives us a schematic of the life history of an impulse in isolation, as if existing separately from its "inner" context of competing or overlapping desires and background of beliefs, expectations, and values – and separately as well from the "outer" context (which is also a living part of our "inner" life) of other people, who make up our relevant landscape and our contextual world.... Alas, examples of such normative, reductionistic teaching and applications of the Cycle model abound, amounting at times to a trivialization of the Gestalt perspective itself... (Wheeler, 2003, p. 165 –italics in original; see also Wheeler 2000) (Loc: 569)

If you apply the idea of a "healthy" aggressor to human relationships, you create the picture of a psychopath who treats other people not as human beings but as objects.' (Loc: 586)

But as soon as aggression is also understood as a feeling, an emotional expression, or even as a hostile action, it arrives at an interpersonal or political level and yields social consequences. (Loc: 594)

the one-sided partisanship for the aggressor becomes problematic, and both psychological and ethical questions arise that Perls apparently did not consider – (Loc: 595)

probably be traced back to his "hyper-individualistic, hyper-autonomous ... oral-aggression" (Wheeler 1996, p. 130 – italics in original) (Loc: 598)

he placed one's own growth and well-being first – including the psychic health of the client with whom he happened to work at a given moment. (Loc: 599)

The fulfillment of the needs of the individual (seen in isolation) was Perls's first priority. (Loc: 603)

A dialectical entanglement of individual and society was beyond his scope of thinking. (Loc: 606)

Perls's theorizing in Ego, Hunger and Aggression remained closely tied to a one-person psychology. (Loc: 607)

To say it pointedly, individuality (which in some older varieties of psychoanalysis is called "infantile autism" or in Piaget's terminology "egocentrism") is seen as the primary entity that is 'domesticated,' if successful social influence is exerted by the community. The social, then, is seen as secondary – both chronologically and systemically. Potentially, it even is a threat to individuality, since socialization and individuation are also regarded as antagonistic forces: whereas society is interested in socializing the individuals who are part of it – that is to say: to deprive them more or less of their individuality and to accustom them to the social norms –, the individual strives to maintain and develop his individuality against society's pressure. (Loc: 612)

in contrast to the individualistic assumptions described above, the social is primary and that any individuality secondarily emerges from it. (Loc: 629)

without exaggeration one can say: in human beings the social is deeply rooted in their biological condition (see Als 1979). To use Buber's words, "man becomes an I through a You" (1970, p. 80). (Loc: 630)

Problematic Notion of Growth (Loc: 632)

To the "orthodox analyst" Perls, a purely quantitative notion of growth – "the bigger, the better" – should have been suspect of representing a primitive phallic phantasy. But a qualitative definition of growth cannot be found is his writings; maybe it is simply impossible to define a term in qualitative ways that is so much quantitatively prearranged in ordinary language.15 Fuhr and Gremmler-Fuhr hold that a quantitative notion of growth is unfeasible in the psychological field and propose "... to eliminate the term 'growth' from the catalogue of Gestalt therapy's key words ..." (2001, p. 91). (Loc: 640)

In her lecture on "How to Educate Children for Peace," that we mentioned above, Laura Perls (1992, pp. 37ff. – see reference point 2) has outlined the traditional theory of aggression in a concise fashion. (Loc: 665)

deplores the educational style of parents who suppress certain behaviors of their child, (Loc: 667)

so-called 'naughtiness,' his crying and shouting, biting, kicking and scratching, tearing and breaking things, but also ... his curiosity and his inquisitiveness" (Loc: 667)

later, using the widely defined term of aggression of her own theory, she writes: Aggression is not only a destructive energy, but the force which is behind all our activities, without which we could not do anything. Aggression not only makes us attack, it also makes us tackle things; it does not only destroy, it also builds up; it not only makes us steal and rob, it also lies behind our endeavors to take hold and to master what we have a right to. (ibid., pp. 42f.) (Loc: 671)

you will find that – in spite of the confusing fact that Laura Perls always speaks of "aggression" – she continuously mentions two categories of behaviors and motivations, respectively. (Loc: 675)

category A refers to aggression (in the specific sense, as it is used in colloquial language as well as in psychological science, (Loc: 678)

category B deals with "inquisitiveness," which in the terminology of motivational psychology is called "investigation" or "exploration" (Loc: 680)

If Laura and Frederick Perls in their formulation of their theory had lent more weight to their actual experience, they might have ended up where Graumann, Ford and other motivational researchers also have arrived, who do not attribute both categories to the same motivational system. To the contrary, the two categories are investigated as instances of two basically different motivational systems, (Loc: 692)

Lichtenberg. According to his investigations, five human motivational systems must be distinguished: (1) the need for psychic regulation of physiological requirements, (2) the need for attachment and later affiliation, (3) the need for exploration and assertion, (4) the need to react aversively through antagonism or withdrawal (or both),16 and (5) the need for sensual enjoyment and sexual excitement. (Lichtenberg et al. 1992, p. 1; see also Lichtenberg 1989) (Loc: 695)

numbers 3 (Loc: 700)

and 4 (Loc: 700)

those motivations to which the Perls refer (Loc: 701)

although (Loc: 702)

into the same hotpot called "aggression" (Loc: 702)

they need to differentiate them laboriously (Loc: 702)

makes sense (Loc: 705)

to assume two different categories of motivations. (Loc: 705)

distinguish assertiveness from aggression. (Loc: 706)


Jaak Panksepp, who has done extensive research on emotions and has categorized them on the basis of neurophysiologic data: (Loc: 710)

1. The SEEKING17 system...: (Loc: 711)

interested in exploring their world (Loc: 713)

2. The RAGE system ...: Working in opposition to SEEKING (Loc: 718)

mediates anger. (Loc: 718)

energizes behavior when (Loc: 718)

irritated or restrained. (Loc: 719)

Panksepp characterizes the "RAGE system" as "working in opposition to SEEKING"; (Loc: 720)

RAGE and SEEKING circuits may normally have mutually inhibitory interactions" (Loc: 721)

SEEKING system is proactively activated, (Loc: 722)

RAGE system is reactivity activated: (Loc: 723)

Previous two paragraphs giving examples of SEEKING activity and RAGE activity So, if in the face of rage - anger - rather than confronting and demanding retribution (the Fight of Fight or Flight) instead we activiate SEEK motivational system we then enquire and find out. (Note|Loc: 738)

two different motivational systems, (Loc: 739)

because of their "mutually inhibitory interaction" described by Panksepp (i. e. the relative incompatibility of attraction and aversion), it must be assumed that in these cases the weighting will be distributed very much on one of these systems (Loc: 741)

fear, shame, and guilt are the affects parents most commonly evoke to erect prohibitions against exploratory-assertive activities they regard as dangerous or damaging: climbing on tiltable chairs, running (Loc: 751)

after a ball into a street, grabbing a toy away from, another child, (Loc: 752)

A subtle but important interplay exists in the parent's perception of the child's motive. Parents who recognize their child's activity as exploratory, self-assertive, and playful in nature, after effectively prohibiting a dangerous pursuit, will help the child to switch to another exploratory-assertive goal, including exploring the danger when appropriate. Parents who regard their child's exploratory-assertive activity as aversive, that is, as antagonistic and rebellious because they do not like it, after prohibiting the dangerous pursuit, shame the child as foolish, malicious, and bad. Consequently, the child will confuse assertion with antagonism and the persistent carrying out of a self-conceived agenda as shameful and evil. (Loc: 753)

subsequent permutations (Loc: 758)

will be pathogenic beliefs (Loc: 758)

that others are hostile suppressors to whom one must be compliant, that the self is faulty and bad and that self-exploratory motives are not to be trusted. (Lichtenberg et al. 1992, p. 55 (Loc: 759)

a lack of differentiation between the child's two different motivations, (Loc: 762)

a parental behavior that treats the explorative-assertive activity of the child as if it had its source in the aggressive side of the aversive motivational system. (Loc: 763)

better deploy (Loc: 764)

childhood rough-and-tumble play (Loc: 765)

(Panksepp 2006, p. 234). (Loc: 765)

Without such experience, children will have a hard time learning to discern self-assertion and exploration from aggression and will tend to activate both motivational systems undifferentiatedly. (Loc: 765)

The lacking ability to differentiate fosters unnecessary (and actually unintended) aggression, since it either confuses aggression with self-assertion or puts aggression in the service of self-assertion. (Loc: 768)

for their clients it is as little helpful as for children, if their explorative-assertive motivations on the one hand and their aversive-aggressive motivations on the other hand are not seen in their respective own rights and are not responded to in the respective appropriate ways. If they are thrown into one and the same hotpot, this lacking differentiation might foster the emergence of aggression in clients in the same manner that it does in children. (Loc: 774)

The explorative-assertive motivational system has to be clearly distinguished from the aversive – both theoretically and in education and psychotherapy. (Loc: 779)

a multitude of aggressive expressions and behaviors (Loc: 780)

which many people display assuming they have to be ("positively") aggressive, when all they want is to follow their needs, interests, and opinions. (Loc: 781)

experienced and expressed hostility might decrease in frequency, if people (Loc: 782)

make more use of the really positive alternative to aggression, i. e. their explorative-assertive capacities. (Loc: 782)

much too often aggressiveness seems to be the only viable option if it comes to standing up for themselves. (Loc: 783)

in what follows we will deal with exploration and self-assertion only marginally, but will turn our attention primarily to the aggressive part of the aversive motivational system. (Loc: 785)

Many studies show that the experience of violence in childhood increases the likelihood of later delinquency because of violent actions by the factor two to four, but does not necessarily lead to violence (Loc: 793)

other possibilities to process childhood experience of violence: (Loc: 794)

become a drug addict, get depressive or develop panic attacks, become unable to form reliable relationships, suffer from psychosomatic or posttraumatic disorders, develop a chronic pain condition or begin to injure yourself – all of these (Loc: 795)

yield a significant correlation with childhood abuse (Loc: 797)

One thing, however, is rare: that one remains healthy ... (Dornes 2006, p. 336) (Loc: 797)

the Dalai Lama once observed with his inimitable smile: "Hatred ... brings about a very ugly, unpleasant physical transformation of the individual" (1997, p. 10 – italics added). (Loc: 838)

"It takes a near-saintly character not to respond angrily to another person's anger, especially when that person's anger seems unjustified and self-righteous. So another person's anger can be considered another cause of anger" (Ekman2003b, p. 111)26. (Loc: 851)

Anger, once activated, cannot be easily deactivated; (Loc: 888)

The working of our memory to a considerable degree is dependent on our overall condition as well as on the relational situation we are in: our memory is "state dependent" (Bower 1981). If we are angry with somebody, we recall instances that have similarly triggered our anger much easier and in much more detail than we remember situations in which we have felt in accordance with the other person or have even been happy. (Loc: 892)

Anger leads to self-righteous cantankerousness and to a lack of self-critical thinking. In his article on "narcissistic rage," Kohut correctly states that in such a situation "... the reasoning capacity [is] ... totally under the domination and in the service of the overriding emotion ..." (1972, p. 382). (Loc: 901)

"authentic" expression of feelings has almost acquired the status of a "hypergood" (see Taylor 1992, 62ff.29); and it seems that – as is the case with hypergoods in general – this hypergood is almost unquestionable, (Loc: 914)

The "spontaneous" and "authentic" expression of feelings, then, is taken to be "healthy," and not much space is left for a critical analysis of the developmental conditions of what is seen as "authentic" within culture and socialization (Loc: 917)

In so-called collectivistic cultures such as Japan or China, in which people mostly adhere to an interdependent notion of self, feeling and showing of anger is not desirable, since this confrontive emotion endangers the harmony of the social reference group. (Loc: 924)

minimize their angry reaction by distracting themselves; or they do not ascribe any intention to the opponent in the first place and, therefore, do not respond with anger, but with equanimity ... (Loc: 927)

the "authentic" feeling in our individualistic culture in infiltrated by social norms that favor the achievement of people's "own goals," even if they are sometimes understood in a very narrow-minded way – as if detrimental effects on the relationships with other people would have no impact on one's "own" interests. (Loc: 933)

studies which prove the adverse long-term impact of a low aggression threshold on the development of intelligence. (Loc: 940)

Once an aggressive strategy has been encoded, it tends to persist and to exert a reciprocal effect on intellectual processes. By hindering good relationships between the child and both teachers and peers, aggressive behaviour interferes with the child's chances at intellectual opportunities and advancement. The aggressive child is not popular and is not afforded many chances for growth through positive social interactions. (2001, p. 55) (Loc: 945)

Summary (Loc: 980)

Anger and aggression, in particular if they become habitual, yield a number of detrimental concomitant phenomena with respect to a person's expressive behavior, intellectual achievement social competency and physical health. (Loc: 980)

The frequent "free" expression of anger is not healthy, as is still maintained sometimes, but – to say it pointedly – makes you ugly, dumb, lonesome, and sick. (Loc: 983)

there are many reasons to call anger a "poison of the mind," as the Buddhists do, or to see it as a "mental sin," as Seneca does (1614, De Ira, book 1, chap. 16). (Loc: 986)

anger and aggression cannot be lived out in a way that is healthy for the person who is angry (Loc: 990)

the expression of angry feelings and the acting out of aggressions is in effect always also retroflective; there is no aggression that is only outgoing and not detrimental to the aggressor himself. (Loc: 992)

anger always strikes back against the person who is angry. (Loc: 996)

the therapeutic aim will not be the complete absence of aggressive experience, but rather the development of resilience. (Loc: 1,002)

It is not that resilient individuals never experience negative affect, but rather that the negative affect does not persist" (2000, p. 1198). (Loc: 1,004)

The psychological concept of catharsis, (Loc: 1,023)

can be traced back to (Loc: 1,024)

a time (Loc: 1,025)

in which there was more thinking and writing on "drives" and "instincts" than on "motivations" and "relations." (Loc: 1,025)

it was assumed, (Loc: 1,026)

a kind of a reservoir was continuously or at certain occasions filled up and, therefore, needed emptying (or "discharge") at times in order not to overflow or even to "explode." (Loc: 1,026)

Aggression had to be discharged every now and then, preferably by directing it toward an object that could not easily be harmed or destroyed: (Loc: 1,029)

Hence, the expression of aggression at those, who are seen to be its cause, or at "substitute objects" "... is called catharsis, and the reduction of aggressive action tendencies that is assumed to be its outcome is called the cathartic effect" (Zumkley 1978, p. 19). (Loc: 1,033)

seen in its light, people seemingly only have the problem of regulating their own internal pressure (see reference points 6,9,15). (Loc: 1,040)

in our view emotions are personal responses; they are aspects of the relations of a person to other people and to the wider environment, on which they may have a forming influence. (Loc: 1,041)

Perls once claimed: (Loc: 1,047)

"Actually nature is not so wasteful as to create such a powerful energy as aggression just to be 'got rid of or 'abreacted'" (1975, p. 33). (Loc: 1,047)

"An emotion is the integrative awareness of a relation between the organism and the environment" (Perls et al. 1951, p. 407). (Loc: 1,049)

As everyday experience shows, in general it is more or less harmful to human relations when someone follows the catharsis model and, in order to achieve the hoped-for release, gives vent to his anger without situational attunement to the other person. (Loc: 1,050)

the categories of drives and instincts need to be replaced with categories of interactions and relationships (Loc: 1,054)

the steam boiler model does not stand the test of today's standards for scientific theories in psychology. However, we must admit that the notion of catharsis is still widespread and can frequently be met in layperson such as therapy clients. (Loc: 1,055)

even more important that (Loc: 1,057)

Gestalt therapists (Loc: 1,057)

remove this model from their manners of talking ("let your anger come out") as well as from their theoretical repertoire. (Loc: 1,057)

the steam boiler model persists in particularly obstinate ways. (Loc: 1,061)

you are very likely to find open ears and to be considered as the enunciator of enjoyable news – especially by people who tend to act out their aggressions anyway (Loc: 1,062)

Anger is an extremely unpleasant feeling; people want "to get rid of it" as soon as possible. (Loc: 1,064)

Bushman et al. (Loc: 1,066)

demonstrate that (Loc: 1,066)

people aggressed because they believed it would be a good way of getting rid of their anger. When the prospect of mood repair was eliminated, aggression lost its appeal. (2001, p. 21 – (Loc: 1,068)

we have to accept the fact that "most of the evidence fails to support the catharsis hypothesis. Indeed, the findings of many studies are exactly the opposite of what would be expected on that hypothesis" (Eysenck 1996, p. 106). (Loc: 1,073)

if therapist think that cathartic procedures will be helpful for their clients to become less aggressive and, therefore, make respective therapeutic suggestions, it is likely that they will be successful to an even higher degree of significance than were the researchers who used the article. (Loc: 1,105)

if a therapists wants to have a client hit a pillow, she or he is relatively likely to be successful. (Loc: 1,107)

"Things could be worse." Things would in fact be worse, if it could be shown that cathartic procedures lead to the contrary of what they promise, i. e. that subjects would tend to more aggressive behavior than they did before the catharsis. (Loc: 1,111)

a number of serious indicators point to exactly that. (Loc: 1,113)

"... hitting a punching bag does not produce a cathartic effect: it increases rather than decreases subsequent aggression" (ibid., p. 373 – italics added). (Loc: 1,117)

Such strategies become entirely counterproductive if applied to clients who tend to temper tantrums (Loc: 1,155)

we must agree with Darwin who observed that "he who gives way to violent gestures will increase his rage .." (Darwin 1898, p. 365). (Loc: 1,160)

"Aggression, whether against an antagonist or some other target, is generally followed by more, not less subsequent aggression" (Geen 2001, p. 134 – italics in original; (Loc: 1,161)

If these techniques are applied in a group setting, an additional impact has to be taken into account that has to do with the effect that group members observe each other's aggressive actions. (Loc: 1,167)

think of group situations in which members witness another member's aggressive action with benevolence, thereby supporting and reinforcing his aggressiveness. (Loc: 1,168)

model learning that takes place simultaneously and that enhances their own aggressive potential. (Loc: 1,171)

"mirror neurons" and their functions show "... that the observation of other people's actions does not only activate an internal program of identification and simulation in the observer, but also that this resonance of mirror neurons blazes a trail for action tendencies" (Loc: 1,171)

In children, the after effects of aggressive demonstrations, particularly those given by male adults to boys, can be detected for many months (Loc: 1,174)

Inhibition and Control (Loc: 1,178)

Today, it is almost commonplace to assert that it does not do you good to "swallow" (or "retroflect") your anger. (Loc: 1,182)

provides the point of departure for the reverse assertion that one has to externalize one's anger in order not to get ill from it. (Loc: 1,183)

this reverse assertion is wrong, (Loc: 1,184)

does not mean that the observation on which it is based is wrong too: (Loc: 1,184)

the "retroflection" of aggressiveness has harmful consequences (Loc: 1,185)

The harmful psychic and physical consequences of chronically held-back anger and/or of anger directed against one's own self that manifest, for instance, in the form of depression, (Loc: 1,193)

self-control can – to the degree that it works –provide a certain amount of protection of others from the aggressions of hostile people, (Loc: 1,200)

there are also serious disadvantages to this strategy, because the (continuous) antagonism between aggressive (Loc: 1,201)

tendencies on the one hand and their deliberate control on the other hand yields the afore-mentioned physical and psychic problems. (Loc: 1,202)

Staemmler & Bock (1998), in their theory of the process of change, emphatically underscore that when polarization has been reached – i. e. the phase in which two contradictive forces are opposed to each other keeping each other in check –, the therapeutic process in no way has come to its conclusion (Loc: 1,212)

We have no objection against moderation, regulation, and control; (Loc: 1,247)

such strategies have been pathologized and rejected as "deflections" or "retroflections" without justification much too frequently. (Loc: 1,249)

to "support" clients in acting out or in cathartically "abreacting" their aggressions, only increases aggressive tendencies instead of diminishing them. (Loc: 1,265)

inhibition of aggressiveness and self-control do have some (limited) efficacy, (Loc: 1,267)

however relatively (Loc: 1,268)

unreliable (Loc: 1,268)

Both are not desirable. (Loc: 1,272)

where can the path between Scylla and Charybdis be found? (Loc: 1,272)

the primary question: how can it be possible to work (Loc: 1,302)

in therapy in a way that helps the client not to activate anger in the first place, but to respond with different emotions that are more beneficial and maybe even enriching for the people involved as well as for their relationships? (Loc: 1,303)

Can Anger and Aggression Ever Be Recommended? (Loc: 1,307)

In our search (Loc: 1,312)

situations we will look at a list of ten different forms of aggression proposed by Petzold (Loc: 1,312)

"Predatory aggression (Loc: 1,313)

"Competitive aggression (Loc: 1,321)

"Defensive aggression (Loc: 1,326)

"Irritation aggression (Loc: 1,335)

"Territorial aggression (Loc: 1,342)

"Maternal and paternal protective aggression (Loc: 1,347)

"Female and male or inter-group social aggression (Loc: 1,351)

"Sexuality-related aggression (Loc: 1,354)

"Instrumental aggression (Loc: 1,357)

"Dominance aggression (Loc: 1,360)

Assertive engagement for one's rights is more efficient in most cases as well as more desirable and in accordance with the rule of law (Loc: 1,366)

"righteous outrage" (Loc: 1,368)

maintaining one's dignity in the face of humiliating treatment. (Loc: 1,369)

this can only be an intermediate solution in extreme situations, (Loc: 1,369)

outrage is nothing but ordinary insulted conceitedness, (Loc: 1,370)

hate (aggression) tends to make one blind and easily leads to terror and counter-terror. (Loc: 1,380)

in the vast majority of situations that are thematized in psychotherapy (Loc: 1,382)

useful to support a developmental process that strengthens resilience and self-confidence, thereby reducing the likelihood of the emergence of anger and aggression in the first place. (Loc: 1,383)

one exception to this rule of thumb: (Loc: 1,385)

a client has controlled, suppressed, or retroflected his anger, rage, or hostility in a way and to a degree that he is not aware of it anymore (Loc: 1,385)

there is no way around bringing awareness to these feelings and attitudes. This is a necessary precondition for subsequent therapeutic efforts that help the client (Loc: 1,387)

What is not activated does not have to be suppressed or retroflected, nor does it need to be expressed or acted out. (Loc: 1,388)

exception constitutes a kind of intermediate therapeutic step during which the salient experience of anger is transitionally useful. (Loc: 1,389)

the therapist needs, however, to take care that the client does not misunderstand this intermediate step as the solution of his problem. (Loc: 1,391)

What could it mean to deal appropriately with anger? (Loc: 1,393)

what can it mean to train ourselves in anger and imagine that we take advantage of its knowledge without being addicted to its poison? (Mercier 2008, p. 378) (Loc: 1,397)

in essence appraisal theory holds that certain feelings are evoked by certain evaluations of situations or events (Loc: 1,402)

much in accordance with Perls et al.: "Experiencing the organism/environment field under the aspect of value is what constitutes emotion" (1951, 95 – italics in original). (Loc: 1,403)

emotions are generated by evaluation of events as they are relevant to a person's motives, goals, or concerns ..." (Roseman & Smith 2001, p. 17). (Loc: 1,409)

appraisal is a relational process that determines the way a person relates to her environment and to other people. (Loc: 1,411)

the quality of an emotion depends on the meaning which the individual attributes to the topical event with respect to the satisfaction of his motives. It leads to a certain relational interpretation (Loc: 1,418)

if I respond to two different events with the same feeling I must have appraised them in pretty much the same fashion. (Loc: 1,420)

a common pattern of appraisals can be found in all situations in which the same feeling comes up, (Loc: 1,421)

Lazarus calls this pattern a "core relational theme"; (Loc: 1,422)

understand the appraisal as the cognitive component of an emotion. (Loc: 1,425)

To a minor degree they are based on innate patterns48, and to a major degree on culturally given and learned patterns49: (Loc: 1,427)

frequently they are automatized and intuitively activated, thereby enabling the person to quickly find an emotional response to the ongoing situation without having to engage in a protracted rational analysis. (Loc: 1,430)

resulting feeling, (Loc: 1,431)

is usually conscious and allows for a spontaneous reaction in terms of action. (Loc: 1,431)

From a modern point of view, emotions are "... interconnected networks of thoughts, memories, feelings, and expressive-motor reactions; (Loc: 1,442)

activation of any one of these components should activate the other components (Loc: 1,443)

'emotion' is a dynamic and central function that integrates behavior, meaning, thinking, perceiving, feeling, relating, and remembering" (Siegel 2007, p. 211 – italics in original). (Loc: 1,444)

in Gestalt Therapy you retrieve this definition: "An emotion is the integrative awareness of a relation between the organism and the environment" (1951, p. 407 – italics added).51 (Loc: 1,452)

from a first person perspective the feeling is probably the one element of an emotion that is figural and most salient in most cases. (Loc: 1,463)

The feeling is the condensed and succinct manifestation of what Lazarus calls the "core relational theme"; (Loc: 1,465)

culture provides the conventions not only as to what counts as infuriating and why, but also as to who is allowed to express anger, how may she or he express it, and towards whom; (Loc: 1,473)

Gender-specific cultural patterns are another example that is highly significant particularly in the context of aggression. (Loc: 1,474)

To act aggressively outwards (Loc: 1,507)

is, (Loc: 1,507)

only one possibility for coping with a problematic situation, (Loc: 1,507)

reevaluation would be that the annoyance would turn into compassion. So the quality of the emotion would change, although the external situation is still the same. (Holodynski 2006, p. 24) (Loc: 1,512)

understanding of appraisal processes opens up an immediate approach in therapy: (Loc: 1,515)

continuous inclination to anger and aggression depends, (Loc: 1,516)

on a certain repeatedly activated appraisal pattern that almost anybody knows from their own experience. (Loc: 1,517)

basic structure of this pattern (Loc: 1,517)

found in the manner in which people report their annoying experiences: (Loc: 1,518)

first there is always the experienced attack, (Loc: 1,521)

second is the reaction (Loc: 1,521)

not only about a temporal sequence, it is also about a causal link: typically, the first event is regarded as the cause for the second. (Loc: 1,522)

this causal link is associated with the moral judgment (see Schrader 1973) that implies a kind of verdict – "guilty!" – on A's action ("attack") as well as a justification for B's redaction ("defense"). (Loc: 1,524)

the fierceness of the verdict on A's action depends on whether bad will and bad faith are attributed to A or if his behavior is interpreted as a result of carelessness and blunder. (Loc: 1,526)

parents tend to encourage their children to "hit back" (=" defend" themselves), if the parents have interpreted a previous action of another child as an attack; (Loc: 1,529)

children are punished, if, from the perspective of their parents, they have been aggressive first. (Loc: 1,531)

parents convey the normative rule, "... that one needs to justify one's anger and aggression by reference to the other person's instigating act" (Miller & Sperry 1987, p. 28). (Loc: 1,532)

if I can convincingly present my aggressive action as a defense against a previous aggressive act by another person towards me, my own aggression will be justified. (Loc: 1,534)

I have to define myself as the victim of a prior aggression against me, if my own aggressive action is to be morally accepted. (Loc: 1,535)

for the other's action to be taken as an attack, first it is necessary to find it somehow important, (Loc: 1,538)

second, one must regard this action as being directed against one's own needs, interests or aims. (Loc: 1,540)

the "core relational theme" of anger, i. e. "a demeaning offense against me or mine" (Lazarus 1998, p. 359 – italics added). (Loc: 1,547)

For therapeutic purposes the following list of four aspects appears sufficient (Loc: 1,550)

What is happening is important to me; something is at stake. (Loc: 1,550)

reference points 21, 22). 2. What is going on is in contrast to my needs, interests, and aims. (Loc: 1,552)

hold the other(s) responsible for what is happening; (Loc: 1,554)

I do not have to tolerate this; I am strong (outraged56) enough to take action. (Loc: 1,557)

(If I feel much weaker than, or inferior to, the one who triggered my anger, I do not dare to act aggressively against him; I may be afraid and withdraw. (Loc: 1,558)

Often they are only partially conscious; all of them are, however, able to become conscious in principle, although with differing degrees of ease. (Loc: 1,564)

working to enable the relevant anger appraisal to become conscious; (Loc: 1,566)

lying (Loc: 1,594)

anger lives on the significance that I attribute to the situation. (Loc: 1,677)

my own priorities are a decisive dimension in the formation of my anger. (Loc: 1,679)

when a high priority meets a contrary situation, might anger arise. (Loc: 1,680)

people who tend to react aggressively are able to take all sorts of things as an occasion to become angry: (Loc: 1,688)

reevaluation of the occasions as "not significant," the trigger of the anger can be removed and composure be (re-)established. (Loc: 1,698)

exposed to bullying and mobbing by your boss or if your child is driven to desperation by an incompetent teacher you will not likely be able to correct your angry reaction by telling yourself to find things marginal (Loc: 1,704)

focusing on self-esteem is an important approach to working with aggression. (Loc: 1,716)

the cases we have just discussed, however, this approach has only an indirect influence on the anger appraisal. (Loc: 1,716)

different situations in which the therapeutic focus on self-esteem is intended to work on the anger appraisal directly. (Loc: 1,719)

"If we examine how anger or hateful thoughts arise in us, we will find that, generally speaking, they arise when we feel hurt, when we feel that we have been unfairly treated by someone against our expectations" (Dalai Lama 1997, p. 9). (Loc: 1,743)

in extreme cases, the execution of physical violence "... may even have an euphoric effect – just like a drug: temporarily, it turns the experience of humiliation, devaluation, and powerlessness into the triumph of physical superiority" (Loc: 1,795)

"... the fact that we feel offended has more to do with ourselves than with the event itself" (2000, p. 26). (Loc: 1,811)

Any procedure that a priori reduces the importance of relatively negative external evaluations also reduces the aggressive potential. (Loc: 1,866)

Epstein reports: In the Tibetan tradition, according to the Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman, the best time to observe the self clearly is when we are in a state of injured innocence, when we have been insulted and think, "How could she do this to me? I don't deserve to be treated that way." (1995, p. 211 – italics in original). (Loc: 1,872)

the self that experiences them and feels attacked. (Loc: 1,906)

... even our most cherished selves must be considered not to exist in the way we normally assume. Indeed, we find that if we search for the identity of the self analytically, its apparent solidity dissolves even more readily than that of the clay pot or that of the present moment. For whereas a pot is something concrete which we can actually point to, the self is more elusive: its identity as a construct quickly becomes evident. (Dalai Lama 2001, p. 42) (Loc: 1,928)

Once the attachment to the perception of an ego has dissolved, there is no more chance for greed, hate, craving, and resentment to become manifest in the mind. No more longing for, or attachment to, the concept of the "I" will be experienced. One will no longer have the idea of not having to be considerate of others, of being spiteful or of wanting to get rid of them. (Khyentse 2002, p. 194) (Loc: 1,937)

The experienced frustration of needs is the second essential element in the typical anger appraisal, (Loc: 1,952)

If hunger counts as the prototype of a need, (Loc: 1,954)

the title of Perls's (1947) first book, Ego, Hunger and Aggression, alludes to this close link between needs and aggression. (Loc: 1,955)

If you had no needs, you wouldn't do a thing" (Perls 1969b, p. 20). (Loc: 1,958)

the "organism" must activate its "healthy ad-gression" and "'step' toward the object of appetite" (Perls et al., 1951, p. 342; (Loc: 1,965)

there can be two kinds of causes that may disturb this process (Loc: 1,969)

contact cycle is interrupted by psychological processes of the person, (Loc: 1,970)

Or there are obstacles in the environment, (Loc: 1,971)

idea of needs, as it is conceived of in classical Gestalt therapy – and also predominant in our consumer society! –, contributes to the emergence of aggression. (Loc: 1,986)

In order to get angry you do not only have to find important what happens, you also have to assume that it conflicts with at least one of your needs, interests or aims, if not with some of them. This statement is correct, but not complete. Since for you to get angry, you also need to hold on to that need, interest or aim and to insist on getting it satisfied, achieved, or reached. (Loc: 1,989)

The likelihood to let go or to resign, respectively, is related to the importance you attribute to that need; (Loc: 1,993)

in the normal course of therapy one can also see clients who by hook or by crook hold on to a certain need and/or the hope for its fulfillment and who, in spite of both great and futile efforts, never consider resigning or letting go. (Loc: 1,998)

Needs may be manifold, but they almost always can be assigned to one (or a combination) of a small number of dimensions that sometimes are called "basic needs" (Grawe 1999, pp. 383ff.). (Loc: 2,033)

1. The need for orientation and control: (Loc: 2,036)

a model of reality, a system of personal meanings into which to integrate her experiences; (Loc: 2,036)

a need to understand herself and her life situation in order to gain some control and influence on them (see ibid., p. 385). (Loc: 2,037)

2. The need for pleasure and avoidance of dislike and pain: (Loc: 2,038)

3. The need for bonding and relationship: (Loc: 2,040)

for security, closeness, and for relationships that provide them with shelter and the feeling of belonging. (Loc: 2,041)

4. The need for a stable and/or high self-esteem: (Loc: 2,042)

"sense of coherence" (SOC): (1) comprehensibility, (2) manageability, and (3) meaningfulness. (Loc: 2,047)

wishes that (1) the stimuli that during their lives arise from their own mind and from their environment be structured, predictable, and explicable; that (2) they have the resources and capabilities that are necessary for coping with those stimuli; and (3) that the demands of life be challenges that make sense and are worth some effort and engagement. (Loc: 2,048)

the sense of competence in coping with challenges will probably yield a positive impact on a person's self-esteem as well as her feeling of belonging and being loved. For many people the meaning of life consists in the experience of being connected to others. In turn, this may elicit pleasurable sensations. (Loc: 2,052)

The Dalai Lama (Loc: 2,087)

states: "To learn patience, one needs adversaries. In this sense our enemies are extremely helpful" (2006, no pagination). (Loc: 2,087)

The third essential element in the anger appraisal is the attribution of responsibility. (Loc: 2,150)


3.6.1. Agency and Control (Loc: 2,154)

Carelessness is a weaker form of control; (Loc: 2,158)

Anger indicates that important personal goals are being threatened, and also that this person tends to blame someone else for this, perhaps because of a vulnerable self-esteem that leads to assumptions of malevolence or insulting attitudes on the part of others. (Smith & Lazarus 1990, p. 630) (Loc: 2,167)

The neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp (Loc: 2,182)

Other people do not cause our anger; they merely trigger certain emotional circuits into action. Ultimately, our feelings come from within, and perhaps only humans have a substantive opportunity, through emotional education or willpower, to choose which stimuli they allow to trigger their emotional circuits into full-blown arousal. (2005, p. 190) (Loc: 2,183)

cultural pattern in fact prescribes, "... that one needs to justify one's anger and aggression by reference to the other person's instigating act" (Miller & Sperry 1987, p. 28), (Loc: 2,205)

you can hear both sides of an aggressive exchange say: "You started this!" (Loc: 2,207)

somebody does such things, she is the agent of this behavior in the sense we have discussed above; but does she really have full control? If indeed there is bad faith, does it not mean that this person at least in part has become a marionette of her own hostility? Is she still in control of herself and her feelings? This can be doubted if one assumes that all people actually have the wish to live together in peace and happiness. (Loc: 2,222)

"The appropriate response to someone who causes us to suffer ... is to recognize that in harming us, ultimately they lose their peace of mind, their inner balance and thereby their happiness" (Dalai Lama 2001, p. 112). (Loc: 2,225)

mostly anger arises from an experienced slight (see reference point 22). ... if this is the case even when a person inflicts harm on us, the harm that is inflicted is in some sense out of that person's control because he or she is compelled by other forces such as negative emotions, delusions, ill feelings, and so on, If we go even further, we find that even a very negative feeling such as ill will or hatred also comes about as a result of many factors and is the aggregation of many conditions which do not arise out of choice or deliberately. (Dalai Lama 1997, pp. 40f.) (Loc: 2,228)

the cultural context of the repeatedly used terms "agency" and "control," you will see how pervasively these terms are soaked in the cool mentality of individualism (Loc: 2,262)

The individualist notion of responsibility denies our multiple interweavements (Loc: 2,274)

The development of the idea of a "relational responsebility" is still in its infancy, as can easily be recognized from the reading of McNamee's and Gergen's (1999) book with the same title (a fact, to which the authors readily admit). "Once we accept that people do affect other people, then responsibility becomes more than an affirmation of self-as-source; it entails the obligation, duty, and responsibility we have to others" (Bindermann 1974, p. 287 – italics added (Loc: 2,283)

an attitude might mean to take a caring and compasssionate stance toward the aggressive person and not see her as a troublemaker only. "Taking moral responsibility means not to consider the Other any more as a specimen of a species or a category, but as unique, and by so doing elevate oneself (making oneself 'chosen') to the dignity of uniqueness" (Bauman 1995, p. 60) – both unique and connected. (Loc: 2,310)

The fourth element of the anger appraisal refers to an evaluation of the respective situation that leads the angry person to trust that she will be able to get what she wants. (Loc: 2,316)

to exert her power (Loc: 2,320)

In moments in which one aggressively turns against others one exerts power. (Loc: 2,323)

becoming annoyed and letting it show can have the effect of a threat, especially if directed at people who are in a weaker position anyway. (Loc: 2,325)

the combination of anger and aggression has to be understood as a certain way of exerting power. And that is exactly where the therapeutic work on this (Loc: 2,333)

element of the anger appraisal can begin, since in Weber's view there is nothing wrong with power per se. It is legitimate to take one's chances in order to get what one wants; however, the way in which power is exerted, is essential. (Loc: 2,334)

Asking for something, bidding for it or trying to convince the other, (Loc: 2,337)

is the first alternative to an aggressive exertion of power. (Loc: 2,338)

The mobilization of aggressive motivation for the purpose of exerting power with the aim of the fulfillment of interhuman wishes is particularly doomed to failure a priori, when basic human needs are concerned (see reference point 28). Thus the therapeutic work must, first, support clients to understand this and, second, encourage the activation of their explorative motives to help them discover appropriate ways of pursuing their wishes for connectedness, enjoyment, and meaningfulness – as well as their ability to peacefully let go of these wishes, if to keep on pursuing them is bound to cause harm for themselves and for others. (Loc: 2,353)

However, there is vast evidence that the feeling and enactment of anger and aggression is supportive neither to the one who experiences or acts this way nor to the ones who are her or his addressees. On the contrary, the experience and expression of hostility is detrimental to the health of the individual herself or himself (blood pressure, coronary heart disease, social isolation, negative development of intellectual capacities, etc.). To say it in Gestalt therapy terms, to be aware of anger and to express it is harmful, but to be conscious80 of it and to relate it verbally is not because it does not involve aggressive arousal (see Siegman 1993; 1994). Perhaps the only exception in which some aggressive expression might be necessary – at least as an intermediate step – is in the case of the client who has suppressed her aggressiveness to such a degree that it escapes her awareness. (Loc: 2,368)

to talk about anger (see Hariri et al. 2000; Ochsner et al. 2002), for instance with one's therapist, as well as to reflect on one's aggressiveness on one's own (e. g. writing a diary – see Pennebaker 1990, pp. 39f., 195) can be instrumental for reducing the readiness for anger and aggression. (Loc: 2,376)

we have looked for an alternative therapeutic approach to hostility and aggression. (Loc: 2,388)

suppression and (Loc: 2,389)

repression of existing aggressive tendencies yields harmful symptoms similar to those of their expression, (Loc: 2,389)

it becomes possible to support clients in developing other than angry feelings. (Loc: 2,394)

emotional alternatives include modesty, humility, patience, sadness, joyfulness, humor, compassion, empathy, connectedness, equanimity, independence (based on interdependence), thankfulness, etc. (Loc: 2,395)

Working on the appraisal that leads to anger and aggression, therefore, does not only have a preventive function with respect to the negative consequences that result from it. At least equally important we find the fact that possible changes of this appraisal open up access to a number of emotions that are part of a happy and healthy life. (Loc: 2,396)

The therapeutic support of joy and happiness is at least as desirable as the alleviation of sorrow and pain. (Loc: 2,401)

it is very difficult for an angry person to maintain this feeling, if she is confronted with someone, who obliviously remains friendly, as Ekman has demonstrated in an interesting experiment. In the debriefing the angry person said: "I couldn't be confrontational. I was always met with reason and smiles; it's overwhelming. I felt something – like a shadow or an aura – and I couldn't be aggressive" (Goleman 2003, p. 18). (Loc: 2,499)

References (Loc: 2,745)

Bushman, B. J. Baumeister, R. F., & Phillips, C. M. (2001). Do people aggress to improve their mood? Catharsis beliefs, affect regulation opportunity, and aggressive responding. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 81/1, 17-32. (Loc: 2,745)

Dalai Lama (1997). Healing anger: The power of patience from a Buddhist perspective. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications. (Loc: 2,759)

Davidson, R. J. (2000). Affective style, psychopathology, and resilience: Brain mechanisms and plasticity. American Psychologist 55, 1196-1214. (Loc: 2,764)

Dornes, M. (2006). Die Seek des Kindes – Entstehung und Entwicklung. Frankfurt/M.: Fischer. (Loc: 2,769)

Dreikurs Ferguson, E. (2000). Motivation – A biosocial and cognitive integration of motivation and emotion. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Loc: 2,771)

Ekman, P. (2003b). Emotions revealed: Recognizing faces and feelings to improve communication and emotional life, New York: Holt. (Loc: 2,780)

Geen, R. G. (2001). Human aggression (2nd edition). Buckingham & Philadelphia: Open University Press. (Loc: 2,811)

Kohut, H. (1972). Thoughts on narcissism and narcissistic rage. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 27, 360-400. (Loc: 2,850)

Lichtenberg, J. D. (1989). Psychoanalysis and motivation. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press. (Loc: 2,869)

Lichtenberg, J. D., Lachmann, F. M., & Fosshage, J. L. (1992). Self and motivational systems: Toward a theory of psychoanalytic technique. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press. (Loc: 2,870)

Panksepp, J. (2005). Affective neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions. New York: Oxford University Press. (Loc: 2,919)

Panksepp, J. (2006). The affective neuroeconomics of social brains: One man's cruelty is another's suffering. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29, 234-235. (Loc: 2,920)

Saner, R. (1989). Culture bias of Gestalt therapy: Made-in-U.S.A. The Gestalt Journal 12/2, 57-71. (Loc: 2,968)

Seneca (1614). The Workes of Lucius Annaeus Seneca. London: Stansby. (Loc: 2,984)

Toch, H. (1983). The management of hostile aggression: Seneca as applied social psychologist. American Psychologist 38, 1022-1025. (Loc: 3,030)

Wheeler, G. (2003). Contact and creativity: The Gestalt cycle in context. In M. Spagnuolo Lobb & N. Amendt-Lyon, Creative license: The art of Gestalt therapy (pp. 163-178). Wien & New York: Springer. (Loc: 3,048)

Wheeler, G. (2006). Die Zukunft der Aggression – Eine Gestalttherapeutische Meditation: Menschliche Natur, Theorie und Politik [The future of aggression: A Gestalt meditation – Human nature, theory, and politics. In F.-M. Staemmler & R. Merten (Eds.), Aggression, Selbstbehauptung, Zivilcourage – Zwischen Destruktivität und engagierter Menschlichkeit (pp. 14-38). Bergisch Gladbach: Edition Humanistische Psychologie. (Loc: 3,050)

Zumkley, H. (1978). Aggression und Katharsis. Göttingen: Hogrefe. (Loc: 3,062)

Perls, F. S. (1973). The Gestalt approach & Eye witness to therapy. Palo Alto, CA: Science & Behavior Books. (Loc: 5,320)

Perls, L. (1992). Living at the boundary: Collected works of Laura Perls (J. Wysong, Ed.). Highland, NY: Gestalt Journal Press. (Loc: 5,325)

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