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November 11, 1939

Man Against Himself

JAMA. 1939;113(20):1834-1835. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800450056031

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This is an interesting presentation which proposes to group all impulses toward self destruction and to endeavor to explain them by a single theory. The author makes no claim that the theory is proved; he brings forward a great many interesting and for the most part convincing examples in support of it. Briefly stated the theory is that, from the uterus to the grave, life is a struggle between the will to live and the wish to die and that various manifestations of human conduct represent different types and degrees of compromise between these conflicting drives or compulsions. The self destructive instinct is resolved by the author into three components, the aggressive (wish to kill), the punitive (conscience) and the submissive (wish to be killed). He takes up first suicide in the ordinary sense, that is, destruction of his life by the individual himself through swift, dramatic and often apparently

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