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May 25, 1970

Violence and the Struggle for Existence

JAMA. 1970;212(8):1381. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170210085032

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The day after Robert Kennedy was assassinated, some members of the Psychiatry Department of Stanford University decided to see what they, as behavioral scientists, could do about the growing problem of violence. This unusual book, published less than two years later, is the result.

The authors evidently studied the extensive literature on violence, shared their findings with each other in conferences and seminars, eventually synthesized their material, and formulated their ideas in book form. The 15 chapters dealing with various aspects of the problem are written by different authors but show the result of shared effort and good editing. There is little of the repetition and contradiction which commonly mar multiple-authored works.

The first four chapters, which present and explain the biological, psychodynamic, environmental, and cybernetic theories of aggression, are followed by an interesting discussion of alternatives to violence. The next seven chapters deal with such varied topics as intergroup