Overcoming the “objective” language of violence

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In addition to the technical difficulties involved in the study of human violence, theoretical attempts at understanding it run into two major obstacles. One is the psychological problem of gaining distance from the human emotions involved. The other is the ideological problem of viewing violence in its historical and social context. This article points to the limitations of some of the current approaches to human violence, and presents one approach which offers a more realistic and more comprehensive way of looking at human violence. The objectivization and quantification of behavior aims at gaining a phenomenological and an ideological distance from it. In the case of human aggression, analogies from animal behavior may serve a similar function. The article advocates dealing with violence in its phenomenological, social, and historical context, and presents the contribution of Frantz Fanon to the understanding of one particular historical situation as a relevant model. Fanon analyzed violence in the Algerian war for independence from a phenomenological‐psychohistorical viewpoint, and his analysis may serve as a model of working within the human context. Efforts in this direction should lead to a more humanistic and a more comprehensive view of human violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-259
Number of pages9
JournalAggressive Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1977


  • Fanon
  • ideology
  • objectivity
  • social psychology
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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