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June 13, 1986

Alcohol and Aggression

Author Affiliations

University of Kansas Medical Center Kansas City

JAMA. 1986;255(22):3176. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370220138046

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Buyers of this book may start with the good intention of reading it from cover to cover, but, after a few pages, will probably abandon the idea. The book manages to be slender and ponderous at the same time and has a pronounced numbing effect. By the last pages, the editor (who had to read the book from cover to cover) is showing definite signs of flagging.

"Aggression," he says on page 212, "is by no means a heterogenous entity." He clearly means to say that aggression is a heterogenous entity. Actually, he doesn't mean to say that either. On page 1, he says aggression is not an entity but a concept. Anyway, if the book has a single theme, it is that aggression has diverse origins and consequences.

The editor has a terrible time defining aggression and finally settles for someone else's definition: "the attempt to deliver noxious stimuli."