An analytical look at violence

The phenomenon of violence, which has existed since the existence of human beings, reveals a very complex structure with individual and social elements and their relations with each other. Therefore, it is not easy to define or classify violence.

Violence can be defined as the power arising from an insult, the use of brute force against those who have opposing views, brute force, and excessiveness in emotion and behavior. We can consider violence in many ways; psychological, sociological, social processes… The aim of this article today is to bring a more analytical perspective to violence and to examine the social and individual processes of violence.

According to Freud, every human being has an instinct for sexuality and aggression, and one cannot be purified from these instincts. According to Freud, violence is related to the death drive. According to Freud, the death drive is a biological force that inevitably leads the individual to destruction and death.

The transformation of the aggression that exists in the human structure into masochistic aggression and the realization of this transformation with the integration of life, that is, with the acceptance of the law, moves people away from pure violence. While this instinct of aggression emerges with destructive behaviors such as harming others in some people, it finds a direction in other ways with self-destructive behaviors such as self-harming or with the activation of different defense mechanisms. Whether the subject applies this violence to himself or to someone else, this includes the violence we live in and is directly related to the violence within us.

One of the most important propositions of psychoanalysis is that violent behavior can be triggered not only by reality and external traumas, but also by unconscious phantasies.

It has been emphasized that it is very important to consider subjectivity in psychoanalysis by considering group belonging. Perhaps the most important basis of this idea is the formation of spirituality among subjectivities. “I” arises from a “we” state. We, that is, the group, has a spirituality of its own, which is different from the sum of the spirituality of the individuals who make up the group. In other words, the inner groups in all of us come together and take on the task of organizing the spirituality of the group we are a member of. In short, individual unconscious and group-specific unconscious structures are in a complex interrelationship and cannot exist separately from each other.

When we begin our investigation of how this came about, we must go back to infancy. Initially, the baby cannot distinguish itself from its mother, its boundaries are blurred. In the relationship with the mother, the baby gradually begins to distinguish that he is a different person from his mother. With this relationship from the beginning, he collects images of himself and the mother in his inner world. The sum of these images creates the designs. In the beginning, good and bad self-design and good and bad object design are separate. That is, while a feeding mother is a good mother; A mother who prevents it is a bad mother. The integration of good and bad self and object representations occurs around the age of 3 years. Core identity A person’s inner sense of who he is, a solid inner sense of sameness, begins to develop when these good and bad self-images come together around age 3. The concept of object relations has a very important place in this respect. Absence of this core identity, not having the same inner subject of sameness all the time, is like psychological death. Another important issue as important as this integration process is identification.

Although identification starts very early, it is strengthened by the separation of object and self-representations and later by the merging of good-bad ideas. Object images and related self-functions are imported and assimilated from the outside. Thus, the identity of the person is enriched. In addition to adaptive, development-promoting identifications, unhealthy identifications may also be possible. The nature and object of identifications are different from each other in each developmental period. The nature of the core identity continues to be updated with different identifications in each new period. According to psychoanalytic theory, core identity is formed at the end of adolescence; although subsequent experiences may enrich and deprive this core identity, it does not change its general nature.

Group identity also settles into this core identity at a very early age. Just as individual identity is a person’s constant sense of sameness, group identity is the solid sense of sameness and togetherness that one experiences with other members of the larger group.

Child psychoanalyst and researcher Emde (1991) explained how group identity is formed from infancy with the concept of “we”. It is an idea in the child’s mind that the baby is acting in concert with the caregivers and the parents; states that the infrastructure of this idea exists psychobiologically. Large group identity fuses into core identity, with the child’s growing relationships with the environment and the outside world; This fusion process lasts from the first days of the baby to the end of puberty. We mentioned that around the age of 3, designs are integrated and object continuity is ensured. So is it always like this?

Some good-bad self and object images may remain unintegrated in each person. Dealing with unintegrated self and object images is a psychological necessity that an individual will deal with throughout his life. One of the most effective ways of coping with this is externalization. In order to maintain a realistic and balanced self-representation, it is necessary to externalize unintegrated representations of both the bad and the good self and object, this is part of the process of healthy self-development.

Intergenerational transmission occurs when a mother or an important person in the child’s life unconsciously externalizes her anxiety, fantasies, perceptions, expectations of the outside world, self and object designs of another person, traumatized self to the self-designs of a developing child. We often see transmission from generation to generation in clinical studies at the individual level. The child unconsciously tries to carry the past story, to mourn the family’s failure, to repair the psychological damage of the family.

Just like individuals, large groups also pass on the traumas that they cannot solve, to the next generation to handle for themselves. While individual members of the traumatized large group have their own unique identities and all have their own unique responses to trauma, members of the entire group also share mental designs of the group’s great tragedies. Mental defenses against painful or unacceptable feelings and thoughts are also included in this design.

The passage of traumatized self-images is like inoculation of psychological DNA into the personality of the younger generation through the younger generation’s object relation to the previous generation. Psychological DNA passed from one generation to the next influences both individual identity and later adult behavior.

Freud’s description of the struggle between the life and death instincts confronts us with the reality of immanent human destructiveness and the dangerous problems that come with it (Freud, 1920). Often there is a desire to deny this fact of life and to find destructiveness in others. Accepting responsibility for destructiveness breeds guilt; This painful situation ultimately leads to denial and projection.

In order to better understand this part, it would be appropriate to examine “enemy images” and their processes; In the case of ethnic enmities, children who are members of one group externalize their unintegrated self and object images through another group. In good times, two neighboring groups experience their similarities through their positive warehouses, while in times of conflict, two neighboring groups exaggerate minor differences and externalize their negative parts to the enemy group in order to protect their own identity.

For example, the phenomenon of war; Identification of the enemy with the bad ensures that little or no guilt is felt on the conscious level when attacked. There is a general reduction in delinquency, as opposed to a highly increased destructiveness in war. This is a successful paranoid defense against guilt. The significant decrease in wartime suicide rates is seen as a result of this general reduction in delinquency and a focus of aggression on the enemy rather than itself. The same processes can be clearly observed in terrorism, which attributes the worst to victims of attacks who deserve to die. In addition, we see the same process in political systems that create polarization by attributing evil to certain groups that are humiliated in society and externalizing their inherent characteristics to other groups.

Whether the person directs violence to himself or to another person, violence is aimed at absolute difference. Violence wants to make everyone and everything the same; most of all, our inability to accept the difference within us. When the inability to tolerate this difference is combined with power, it leaves behind great massacres and genocides. The goal is to destroy the other, or to make him the same as the powerful.

Whatever the difference, any intolerance to that difference can bring violence. For example, violence against women, children, the elderly, and homosexuals… In fact, the reason for all of these is directly related to the inability of a person to adopt his own difference in his original structure. At the point where he cannot complete the identification that will form his personality and identity at the first encounter with the other and cannot say “I am this”, he cannot say “You are Him” to someone else.

Although the individual processes of violence are mentioned more in this article, in fact, violence is both an individual and a social problem. Perhaps one of the main factors in dealing with this problem more effectively is that the individual is aware of and accepts the differences within himself and thus experiences acceptance of others more easily. Apart from this, one of the most important phenomena seen especially in violence against women is that men apply this violence to women as a sign of power. Arrangements to be made in legal processes related to this matter are beyond the scope of this article. In addition, perhaps one of the most important points to be done is to work on gender inequality and to stay away from discourses that marginalize women and the female body in our daily life, social media and written language. As mentioned in the psychoanalytic process, although the externalizations we use are a part of the individual process, at the point where we turn these externalizations into negativity, we unintentionally become a part of the delusion that creates gender inequality and degrades women.

*While preparing this article, the book “Violence Within: Phenomena of Violence from Spiritual to Social” was used from the Psychoanalysis Library. Those who want to do a more detailed reading should refer to this book.

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