Men, Women, and Hate


Two of my friends were engaged in a warm discussion.

’Freud will always be honored as one of the greatest men in medical science,’ said the first, ‘because he reduced to a scientific basis what had previously been the semi-organized intuition or wisdom of a few perspicacious individuals. His theory and his techniques are among the greatest forward steps in medicine. My only objection is that he reduced all of the psychological troubles of man to sex. That I cannot accept.’

‘Show me,’ said the other, ‘something that is more painful, more perplexing, more repressed, than matters of sex in the life of human beings, from their childhood up, and I will agree with your objection. If there were anything more repressed than sex, it would be the cause of trouble in human adjustments. But there is n’t! Freud, being intellectually honest, had to report what he found.’

At this point they appealed to me, and I had to say, ‘You are both correct, both mistaken. Freud did discover that sexual repression led to unhappy consequences. But he also discovered later that there is something even more repressed, more tabooed than sex, — namely, hate, — and that it, rather than sexuality, is really responsible for the psychological ills of mankind. When he felt sure of this he courageously retracted and recast his original concept in favor of the view that the erotic instinct constantly defends us against self-destructive tendencies arising from hate.’

Many of the disasters of life which are blamed on Fate, heredity, misfortune, or the machinations of foes can be traced to this unconscious destructive force within ourselves. Varieties of such selfdestruction are familiar to everyone. Men drink themselves to death, antagonize their friends, throw away their best opportunities for success, stumble into accidents or sickness under such circumstances as would make it appear that they had unconsciously wished to suffer or to fail or to fall ill. In all too many instances they actually kill themselves outright. Whether one kills himself suddenly or slowly and by inches, the suicidal impulses are psychologically the same. They spring in part from an inability to express one’s hostilities in an expedient manner upon an appropriate object. Repressed (not merely suppressed) for want of such expression, these destructive energies turn back upon their author. Then from the conscience there comes additional force to swell the power of the now self-directed aggressiveness.

This in oversimplified outline is the theory of self-destructiveness, using that expression in its broadest sense rather than in the narrow meaning of suicide. But fortunately there is a powerful force operating toward the mitigating or counteracting of this self-destructiveness. There is that tremendous power which draws men and women together and which draws men and men together and which draws us all together in varying degrees of intensity and effectiveness. It may seem a little trite to come around finally to the conclusion, as Freud has done, that to combat our self-destructiveness we must love one another. But the greatest truths are often the simplest, and this is a conclusion at which Jesus and Plato and many others arrived. The practical question is, what can be said as to the expedition of this programme of loving? It is n’t enough to be told that we should love one another. We know that already. But how to do so — that is a question which no one answers.

We think of the love of a man for a woman and her love for him as the most intense expression of this life instinct, the force which opposes the self-destructive instinct. To love and to be loved should exclude the possibility of hating, destroying, and permitting oneself to be destroyed. If our theory can be true, where there is a full expression of love between two people there should be no weeping, no sorrow, no recriminations, no resentments; I would go further and say, no accidents and no sickness.

If this seems a little Utopian, let us word it another way: people are permitted to love one another, encouraged in it by society, sanctioned by the law, inspired by the examples of their parents and friends or even by the nesting doves and similar phenomena. Yet, with all this impetus in the direction of mutual affection, men and women are frequently unhappy together. Why? Why is divorce so frequent, and contented marriage so rare? What, in short, is behind the war between the sexes which permeates our society? Instead of aiding toward a better integration, greater constructiveness, it would seem as if the association of the sexes often stimulated a mutual aggressiveness, and that men and women aid and abet one another in self-destructiveness instead of greater creativeness.

I base such conclusions upon clinical experience with unhappy women and ineffective men, and with increasing alcoholism among both, and upon the general unfairness toward women on the part of business and industry, the diminishing interest in children, the increasing preparations for war. Occasionally some woman and less frequently some man becomes articulate about this conflict. James Thurber drew some sadly humorous cartoons about it in the New Yorker. Anything which can be made funny must have at its heart some tragic implications.

Long ago Freud made the comment that with a normal love life there could be no neurosis. If neuroticism is on the increase, as is generally agreed, we might infer that an effective utilization of the function of love is diminishing. The socalled abnormalities of sex, those individual peculiarities which characterize every individual and which at first appeared to claim so much attention from psychiatrists, have long since ceased to be regarded by them as other than fragments of an erotic striving broken by surges of uncontrollable hate. Sex and sexuality never made anyone ill and never made anyone feel guilty. It is the hate and destructiveness concealed in them which produce strange aberrations and bitter regret.

Until we have recognized this fact, it seems to me futile to attempt or expect improved social and marital relationships in the world. In the past, efforts to improve matters have been directed chiefly to the strengthening of love — by the blessing of the church, the exhortations of the ministers, the tacit rules of society, the enforced regulations of the law. ‘You must love one another,’ say these authorities. ‘You must love and promise to love and keep on loving. You must also love your children, you must love your neighbor, you must even love your neighbor’s dog (but not his wife). If you fail in any of these we shall punish you.’ Meanwhile the ebb and flow of the hatred against which this love must incessantly battle pass unrecognized, unadmitted. Some of the very things intended to enforce the love actually stimulate the hatred.


Now that we have some idea of the instinctual nature of man, it is possible to consider the social relationships of human beings in a somewhat more comprehensive and, I believe, fruitful way. We may examine those special forms of hate that develop between men and women, especially in the relationships that should theoretically be dominated entirely by love, and we can attempt to trace their origins. All along the reader must bear in mind that hate and love may coexist, and that whether hate is conscious or unconscious makes little real difference in the net result.

First of all, let me be sure that we agree that women do hate men, and men women. Some would prefer to put it that men fear women and vice versa, but we know that fear and hate are almost inseparable. At any rate there is no doubt that men do neglect women, avoid them, restrict them, and discriminate against them in many situations. This has had many eloquent, if bitter, expositions, Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas being one of the most recent. Indeed, I should say without reservation that men fear and hate women more than women fear and hate men. I think it is this rather than the male’s superior physical strength that makes it possible for our civilization to be called ‘a man’s world.’ It is not a contest of strength; it is a contest of hate. This hatred of men for women is one of the causes of the retaliatory reactions of women, one of the elements in their hate for men. But it is not the only cause for women hating men. The little girl resents the fact that she is not as strong or as active or as privileged or as influential or as egotistical or as untrammeled by physiological processes as is her brother. Many women appear to have an obsessive drive to take revenge on men for real or fancied injuries, for the feeling that they have been forced into what they regard as an inferior status.

The aggressions of women are not always so obvious as those of men, but unfortunately they are probably just as prevalent. The woman who curbs her husband’s initiative, exhausts him with her emotional or material demands, dampens his enthusiasms, wastes his money, humiliates him, nags him, remains sexually unresponsive to him, or, worst of all, pillories him by an attitude of martyrdom — such a woman leaves no doubt by her actions as to her deep resentment of men, however much she may verbally deny it or successfully exclude it from her consciousness.

In the eagerness of winning a wife or the joy of obtaining a husband, both men and women for a time forget these resentments. They cannot believe that any ever existed or ever could exist. Marriage comes, then, representing a fait accompli. Both parties have won a victory; both have, at the same time, entered into a contract of obligation to one another which draws upon the emotional reserves — I should say the erotic reserves. These may become heavily depleted, even exhausted, and as time goes on the old aggressive feelings of hostility for the opposite sex which the heightened emotion has held in check are reawakened or renewed within the marital union. For the giving of love to another, necessary as it is for the life of the individual, is nevertheless possible only by withdrawing love from the reservoir of self-directed, self-absorbed love. It is this that we perceive when we say that so-and-so is too selfish to marry, or, if married, too selfish to have children. The process of transforming self-love into object love is extremely difficult for those whose childhood experiences were such as to make them fear the result of attempting to do so.

But it is very difficult for the average person to realize that friction with his spouse is based not so much upon minor contemporary provocations as upon the earlier frustrations and resentments of his childhood. He is more impressed, often, with what seem to be very real and present obstacles to happiness. Some of these may be in the very nature of the social order under which we live, the cultural requirements. And to these we should first give thoughtful consideration. Exactly what are the factors in our civilization which internally or externally lead to unhappy relationships between the sexes? Having come to some conclusion about this inquiry, we can approach the second question: what is the nature of the psychological reactions to these factors in men and women respectively?

I am not a sociologist, but a psychiatrist, and therefore it is difficult for me to think in terms of the social structure except as representing mass crystallizations of the attitudes, wishes, and fears of individuals. On the other hand, the behavior of each individual is to some extent determined by these preëxistent and coexistent mass opinions. Hence there is a constant interaction between the established expression of human instinct and emotion, on the one hand, and the individual’s attempts to conform to this expression. From one standpoint it is absurd to speak of the war between the sexes in general terms; the war between men and women is certainly very differently determined and expressed in Persia, for example, than in Alaska. There must be similar differences in regard to the intersexual conflict as manifested in England and in the United States, and even in Maryland and Texas, let us say; or, to narrow it down still more, as between urban and rural couples. The customs and social attitudes in these various localities differ so considerably that the particular external irritant in one place may be entirely lacking in the other.

If one continued this line of reasoning far enough, however, one would say that the exact nature of the hostilities between male and female could be accurately determined only in a particular instance, in a particular locality at a particular moment, and then only by subjecting both parties to thorough psychological and sociological study. This is not exactly a reductio ad absurdum, but it ignores the possibility of indicating certain trends which apply more generally, from a consideration of which it might be possible to draw some helpful inferences for those who are not sufficiently involved in such conflict as to make it necessary for them to be psychiatrically studied. Hence I shall have the temerity to indicate some general principles which seem to me to have validity because they are conclusions drawn from a number of such individually studied couples.


One’s first thought in considering the war between the sexes concerns the familiar questions whether — or, rather, in what way — this is a man’s world, as one often hears that it is; whether or not America is matriarchal in its family government; whether or not men or women are more cruel, or more patient, or more effective. What all of these come back to is really the question of who possesses or who exerts the most power. The assumption is that such power is used aggressively against one sex and in the self-interest of the other. Of course there is n’t any doubt that the average man has more physical strength than the average woman. However, the combative strength in the sexual war is no longer a matter of muscles. To a considerable extent economics has replaced mechanics in the regulation of all human affairs. Aside from war and some types of common labor, the superior strength of men has long since ceased to be of great practical importance, and in its place has come the power of the purse strings.

This may seem pretty obvious, but, simple as it is, it is generally overlooked in discussions of the subject, because in our primitive thinking the influence of muscular strength remains disproportionately great as a carry-over from our childhood feelings of helplessness. Men still believe it necessary to impress upon women that they, the men, are more powerful, and that this power is not only for the purpose of protecting women, but for the purpose of conquering them and holding them in abeyance. But the women constantly erect some barrier to the direct infliction of this ‘ power ’; it is customary to be deferential to women, to give them various minor physical advantages and prerogatives, to refrain from striking them under penalty of the law. But no such advantage is given them in the business world; on the contrary, they are hedged about by many restrictions and handicaps, and they are fair prey to the exploitation of men skillful enough to accomplish it. Women, for their part, have their own special devices and techniques of exerting power against men. Sometimes Samson, sometimes Delilah, wins out. A husband may oppress his wife, but a divorcee may put her husband in prison for alimony delinquency.

In many of the contemporary discussions, this is the sort of material that is elaborated. Virginia Woolf is at some pains to show how gaudy and pretentious men are in their ceremonial costumes — this in a book which, to be sure, contains far more recondite material. Pearl Buck, in a recent article on ‘America’s Medieval Women,’ is impressed with the false promises men make women, particularly in the educational system. Others point out how the church abets women in maintaining an unnatural control over the sexual propensities of men. But it is to none of these familiar topics that I would call attention, because I believe all of them are secondary in importance to the question of reproduction. In the light of modern psychoanalytic theory, living and loving are almost synonymous; one may say that eating one’s food and kissing one’s bride are merely differently directed expressions of the same drive.

Hence the significant sociological factors contributing to intersexual warfare must be those which restrict the opportunity to live and to love — that is, to subsist and to reproduce. Now I am not sufficiently versed in economics to know definitely (if, indeed, anyone knows) whether it is actually or relatively growing more difficult to subsist. My impression, and I suppose the impression of most people, is that such is the case. We don’t work as hard, and perhaps the average man has more money than in the days of an earlier existence — let us say, one hundred years ago; but, on the other hand, unemployment, depression, and actual starvation seem to be more extensive now than ever. Certainly the discrepancy between what a man may have and what he almost must have in order to keep up with his neighbors is now greater than ever, and keeping up with the neighbors means maintaining a rapidly expanding conception of the proper standard of living. The point of all this is that economics has undoubtedly been one factor in the reduction of the birth rate.

As we shall see, this well-known and prosaic fact has immense psychological significance. For it has become too expensive to have children, or rather to have as many as are wanted. Children are no longer the assets they once were when they worked for their parents and had distinct property value. The state of the world seems increasingly uncertain. Frontiers and virgin resources have disappeared. The threat of world war grows daily greater. Economic theory is only a little less confused than the actual state of economic affairs. And after all, since the prime objective of the erotic drive is the preservation of the species, and since this includes the production of children, these increasing interferences with its expression act as smothering blankets upon the fires of life.

For a long time it has been recognized, as Freud beautifully points out in his Civilization and Its Discontents and other papers, that the progress of civilization has been made at the cost of the erotic life of mankind. This might be taken to apply primarily to the increasing frigidity among women and impotence among men. (That these conditions are increasing cannot be doubted by anyone familiar with the intimate personal life of any considerable number of individuals. The startling increase in alcoholism goes hand in hand with this phenomenon, since, as all competent observers have remarked, the alcohol addict is nearly always sexually inadequate, even though he may appear to be sexually overactive.) But the point I am making now is that not only is the immediate sexual life of human beings impaired by our efforts to be civilized, but the ultimate purposes of the erotic instinct, the bearing and rearing of children, are also interfered with, and life itself thus threatened.

The most important consequence of this in relation to our main theme is the effect it has had upon the women. For, whereas childbearing was once the mark of a woman’s success and the most important thing she could do, now it is likely to be an indication of her resignation, her carelessness, or her lack of ambition. It is no secret that many women, perhaps most women, now dread to have children. By far the majority of illegal abortions are performed upon married women, women who have a legal right to bear children but who do not want to do so or feel they cannot.

Thus far I have put the blame for this chiefly upon the economic system, but I remain true to my central thesis, that in the last analysis this must be checked up in part to something in the psychology of the individual. One would expect instincts to rise above economics. When they do, as in the case of the poor families on relief who go on having more children whom they cannot support, we charge it up to slovenliness — criminal improvidence. The very fact that these people do not have enough food or shelter or anything else which gives them a sense of security increases the need for the psychological support which reproduction gives them. It is much easier, of course, to describe this in terms of moralistic condemnation, as is often done, but it is not very philosophical and it allows us to sidestep the psychological necessity of reproduction. Thus we fall again into the fallacy of minimizing the importance of the erotic life, including childbearing.

The point is that the more intelligent people think they can substitute other gratifications; that they are mistaken in this appears in the neurotic consequences. Hence such thinking is in effect a cloak for self-destructiveness. There are many women who could well afford to have children but who, following the tradition of the times, think themselves more comfortable without these responsibilities. Still other women consciously desire children — so they think — but find themselves sterile. Both types, to my notion, represent unconscious self-destructive inhibitions. Certainly nothing in our civilization is more disgraceful and tragic than the millions of women who are childless in part because they are unmarried, and unmarried in part because of their inability to adapt themselves to the precarious rôle of a married woman.

Since the bearing and rearing of children is woman’s greatest achievement and the climax of her erotic development, one would expect it to be not only her greatest joy but the source of her greatest power. By means of it she comes into a genuine sense of security and is thus in a position to counteract not only her own aggressive impulses but the occasional eruptions of aggression and self-destructiveness on the part of her husband. Hence to be thwarted in this objective, whether by the restrictions of economic reality or by lack of socially approved opportunity or by conflicting wishes engendered within her by her early childhood experiences, makes for a deep inner resentment. To put it another way, it deprives her of her primary safeguard against her own aggressive impulses.

I have dilated upon this great frustration of women because it seems to me to be the most fundamental one. I am not unaware of the charge that civilized men, and particularly American men, are distressingly inattentive to women. They are so engrossed in their business affairs and the struggle of making a living that they have little time or energy to devote to the constructive purposes of love. Foreign psychiatrists and psychoanalysts have repeatedly commented upon the apparent sexlessness of Americans, the extent to which men get along without women or else treat them either as mothers or as prostitutes. They speak of the neurotic, sexually inhibited American business man who is a success in practical affairs and a failure as a lover, husband, and father. But the same observers also comment upon the aggressive, grasping, managing American women. ‘Super-normal,’ I have heard them called. Such women are reacting, they say, to the neglect that they receive from men by a retaliatory assumption of masculine techniques. It is as if they set out to control and punish the men for being too busy to make love to them. All this they ascribe in large measure to the puritanical tradition of sexual suppression in this country.

Although I am not convinced of the greater happiness of European wives and husbands, I do not differ with this interpretation in the main, but I think the point I discussed above is more basic. For if women were not frustrated in regard to their most important objective, and their position as women were not depreciated by the popular attitude toward childbearing, their resentful aggressiveness which my European colleagues observe and blame upon sexual frustration would certainly diminish; and if this aggressiveness were less and the soft feminine qualities more in evidence, the erotic reaction of men to them would be greater, and these secondary frustrations would thus disappear.


My belief is, then, that most American women are deeply and critically frustrated in their childbearing function, and that this results in compensatory reactions of masculine strivings on the one hand and aggressive retaliation on the other. The success of many women in taking the place of men and leading men’s lives in all important respects — in politics, in sports, in business, and even in foreign affairs — may be said to represent the most favorable and least harmful reaction. These things do not really hurt men, however much bellowing they may stimulate. What really hurts the male is the impact of feminine resentment against him, especially while he is still a little boy. Far more serious than the aggressions of the wife against her husband are the effects of the unconscious attitudes of resentment on the part of the mother toward the child. It may seem paradoxical to say that a woman frustrated in regard to having children expresses her resentment over this frustration toward the few children she does have; nevertheless this is evidently the case, for, with the prevalent social attitudes, those few that she does have (if she has any) are apt to fail her as a gratification and to serve rather as a source of hated responsibility and even as a kind of degradation.

Mothers betray in a hundred ways their genuine resentment of the child and of the obligations he imposes upon them. They turn him over to hirelings during the most important period of his development. They send him to camps and boarding schools; they farm him out with relatives; they separate their interests entirely from his. I am constantly amazed at the way even well-to-do parents, parents who think nothing of spending thousands of dollars upon their own pleasures, will demur to relatively trivial expenses connected with their children — for example, the attempts of physicians and teachers to relieve the children of neurotic complications which the attitude of the parents has helped to produce.

The secret cruelties that parents visit upon their children are past belief. It is said that the American Indians looked with horror upon the white settler’s practice of whipping his children. To scalp an enemy, a contender in war — this they could understand, but to strike a helpless child seemed to them incredible. I share this prejudice with the Indians, and in my capacity as a psychiatrist I shudder at the tales of brutality I am obliged to hear. Many people imagine that, in the intimacy of the psychiatric consultation room, shocking secrets are revealed pertaining to abnormal sex practices, perverse yearnings, and the like. But it is not these that shock the psychiatrists. It is the daily recitations of almost unbelievable cruelties systematically practised by parents upon children. I despair of conveying to the average reader either the extent or the extremity of these, because the natural protective devices of the mind are such that the reader is bound to regard them all as exceptions. There are a few letters and case histories in my private files that even after a good many years of clinical experience I cannot bear to reread, and I hasten to add that these people are not, like many of the characters of such novels as those of William Faulkner, poor and ignorant, but often wealthy and socially prominent.

But far more significant in the war between the sexes than these dramatic episodes are the subtle cruelties inflicted by unconsciously resentful mothers upon their defenseless children. Smothering a child by anxious concern over every detail of his life, robbing him of all opportunities to express himself naturally and to discover the world for himself, rebuking his early efforts to explore and direct his dawning sexuality, may be more crippling than beatings and curses. One mother made her son practise pushing his ears to the side of his head and squeezing his nostrils together so that he would not look so ‘ burly and masculine and Negroid.’ Another mother put a diaper upon her sevenyear-old son and exposed him to her friends in ridicule to cure him of bed wetting (the latter being, of course, one of his protests against her rule). I could fill many pages with similar illustrations.

Such tactics and such an attitude serve to rob the child of that sense of masculinity which he must have in order to love confidently and live constructively. And for this robbing and suppressing of his masculinity (as for all other manifestations of hatred by the mother) the growing boy bears a deep resentment. The state of being curbed and controlled and wounded by a woman is one which breeds in him an eternal distrust of that woman and of all other women.

To be sure, this protest against interference with his natural pleasures is probably felt by every child, male or female, and the interference comes chiefly from the mother. It is she who enforces the weaning, who forbids the satisfaction of indiscriminate evacuation in favor of the methods approved by adult society, who must say ‘ No ’ many times, and many times ‘You must.’ All this the child resents, and focuses his resentment upon the agent of his thwarting, the mother. But my point is that the necessities of reality, plus the restrictive puritanical mores of the times, are enforced upon the child with an aggressive technique that bespeaks unconscious, if not conscious, hostility, which is still further augmented in the case of sons by the special envious resentment toward males that is present in so many mothers. It is this envy which leads a mother so often to want to rob her child of the masculinity which she begrudges him. Because she is usually not aware of this, and, even if she were, would fear to show it in any overt way, she is more apt to use such petty but none the less effective methods as overprotecting him, keeping him in curls, snatching him from the company of other boys whom she regards as rough or dangerous, insisting upon manners, and the like.

That these devices actually do have the effect of crippling the masculinity of the boy every psychiatrist knows from clinical experience. It is the sort of thing that has happened in childhood to men who consult us many years later because of impairments of masculinity which may show themselves in an unsatisfactory sexual life, or more commonly in various attempts to compensate for an unsatisfactory sexual life, such as alcoholism, hypochondriasis, neurotic illnesses, all kinds of marital conflict, and even actual psychoses. Call them the extreme cases if you like, but they are extremes that indicate what I believe to be an increasing trend of a most malignant sort. I think one can see in the hysterical suppression of women by the Hitler régime a violent reaction to this fear on the part of men that their masculinity has been or is about to be taken from them. That the women should be blamed for this instead of the Allies, or civilization, or corrupt politicians, is explicable in the light of the fact that, in times of panic, childhood fears and prejudices dominate individuals.

The ultimate result in the son of the specially aggressive mother is that he grows up to fear women and hate them to such an extent that even his erotic instincts, which normally overcome these negative emotional feelings, cannot triumph. This reduces his capacity to love, which in turn thwarts the woman whom he tries to love, and this thwarting increases her resentments. As a result he turns for his love to such sublimated forms as can be obtained in male organizations of various kinds — business activities, clubs, athletic associations, scientific societies, pool halls, bars, poker parties, and so forth. The brotherly camaraderie of men is therefore not so much an indication that love now prevails to a greater extent than in the bellicose days of old as evidence that its expression is being forced out of its most natural channels. Much as such men may fear and hate one another, they feel safer with one another than with women. Whether one explains this as due to the fact that less is expected of them in such company, or that they are anxious to be free from the dominance and surveillance of their wives, or that they are positively attracted to one another, it all comes to the same thing.

The danger of such a solution is that men’s destructive impulses are not sufficiently neutralized by this dependence upon one another. Sooner or later they must foment a war with someone, and wars are always self-destructive. That is what is happening now in the Fascistic countries, where masculine association is so greatly favored.


We are left at a rather hopeless impasse. The social and economic structure deprives women of children and antagonizes them toward children. The children reflect this in their subsequent associations with other adults and with the next generation. Men turn from women to the company of other men and thus thwart women further, and they in turn inflict more aggressions upon men and upon children.

We cannot change civilization or the social structure, so at first blush the outlook would seem very pessimistic. This was Freud’s conclusion in an essay published in 1912: —

So perhaps we must make up our minds to the idea that altogether it is not possible for the claims of the sexual instinct to be reconciled with the demands of culture; that, in consequence of his cultural development, renunciation and suffering, as well as the danger of his extinction at some far future time, are not to be eluded by the race of man. This gloomy prognosis rests, it is true, on the single conjecture that the lack of satisfaction accompanying culture is the necessary consequence of certain peculiarities developed by the sexual instinct under the pressure of culture. This very incapacity in the sexual instinct to yield full satisfaction as soon as it submits to the first demands of culture becomes the source, however, of the grandest cultural achievements, which are brought to birth by ever greater sublimation of the components of the sexual instinct. For what motive would induce man to put his sexual energy to other uses if by any direct disposal of it he could obtain fully satisfying pleasure? He would never let go of this pleasure and would make no further progress.

I do not entirely agree with Freud here, and I believe that in the quarter of a century that has passed since he wrote those words he too has come to be willing to revise them somewhat. It is the aggressive impulses, not the erotic ones, that need to be sublimated; indeed, it is the erotic impulses that enable us to sublimate our aggressions. Van Gogh did not hurl paint at the canvas because he was sexually starved; such love as he was capable of infused itself into his violent resentments to the extent that their plastic expression was acceptable to us as art instead of repulsive to us as criminality or beastliness.

Nevertheless, for the general outlook it is difficult not to share Freud’s pessimism. It would seem as if only a complete social and economic revision would enable us to break up the vicious circle which certain features of our civilization encourage, but in individual instances I think the application of intelligence may be considerably effective.

For one thing, in spite of the difficulties and hazards, in spite of the hostile social attitudes, I think that the bearing of children and the recognition and relinquishing of our hostilities toward them could be encouraged as a definite step in self-preservation — not for the purpose of race preservation or of army replacement or of religious compliance or of the justification of improvident irresponsibility, but for self-preservation. I have already dilated on this point.

Then also it seems to me that the development of sports and athletics and the participation of women in them offer an exceedingly healthy form of diversion of the aggressive impulses. I have seen many couples who were able to live in comparative harmony because one or both of them succeeded in unloading hostilities in the form of athletic contests. I happen to think of one husband and wife who did not quarrel verbally but who fought violent tennis battles with each other. They did n’t always enjoy the games, but they enjoyed relative happiness between games, so to speak. I have elsewhere suggested some other devices along the same lines for diminishing the aggressions.

The participation of wives in the support of the family and their activity in the business world may serve the same purpose. For women to divide their interests between homemaking and business life may not seem an ideal arrangement from the point of view of either traditional standards or psychological theories, but it may be an advantageous compromise in the case of the woman who would otherwise build up too much unrelieved resentment at what she regards as a humiliating or at least uninspiring assignment.

Finally, for those whose resentments have already reached uncontrollable heights, there is now the merciful relief of psychoanalytic exploration. We should regard it as barbaric to allow a friend to suffer indefinitely from a condition easily relieved by modern surgery, and yet many people endure agonies of depression and bitterness and guilt who could be relieved by psychological surgery if they but knew it.

The theory of psychoanalytic therapy rests upon the assumption — an assumption borne out by clinical experience — that intelligence has some influence in directing the investment of instinct. This it cannot do, however, so long as it remains blind to its own defections. As I have said elsewhere, if it is our nature to be self-destructive, our best defense lies in becoming aware of such tendencies. The principle of recognizing the ways in which one destroys his own happiness, and applying one’s intelligence to forestalling or repairing the damage instead of devising more ingenious forms of retaliatory destructiveness, offers hope to everyone who utilizes it, apart from its special application in therapy. While it is true that we cannot change society suddenly, some of us are bound to put faith in the ultimate effects of education. It is conceivable that in spite of economic pressure, in spite of prejudice and superstition, we may gradually achieve a somewhat less artificial, more psychologically and biologically sound, sexual morality. If we do, it must come, I believe, not through legislation, but through an awareness of internal aggressions and mutual hatred — self-perpetuating hatred that is reflected in the evils of society, rising anew like the phœnix from the ashes of every social revolution.

The furtherance of peace in the multiple miniature conflicts in the lives of the individuals that make up communities, states, and nations is, it seems to me, our first concern; for behind the problems of class wars and international war is the problem of interpersonal wars, the wars between man and man and between men and women. Hence in the future, as at present, wars will continue to seem honorable and inevitable, to be fought ‘in the service of humanity’ in spite of their cost in human life and happiness, until we declare a lasting truce in that most ancient and deadly feud, wherein new wounds are opened every day — the war between men and women.