Revenge: On the Dynamics of a Frightening Urge and its Taming

Author(s) : Tomas Bohm, Author(s) : Suzanne Kaplan

Revenge: On the Dynamics of a Frightening Urge and its Taming

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : 2011
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 238
  • Category :
    Trauma and Violence
  • Category 2 :
    Psychoanalysis
  • Catalogue No : 29887
  • ISBN 13 : 9781855758278
  • ISBN 10 : 185575827X
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The authors' aim in this book is to focus on revenge as a neglected and insufficiently understood psychological mechanism in a broad spectrum ranging from the many and varied revenge acts of everyday life to the extreme societal destructiveness of genocide.

Are perpetrators always avengers? What is the destructive potential of ordinary people? Envy, narcissistic wounds and rage are important themes with links to our forefathers. Human affects are central for attachment, symbolization and memory. How we deal with trauma will have an effect on the outcome of the revenge spiral. There are also grey areas between revenge and limit setting; what do these areas look like?

The authors develop models for horizontal and vertical relationships which are important for an open reflective mental space. Via the concept of "space creating" the book describes the creative space with its possibility for reflection. The dilemma of the professional helper, the consequences of listening to traumatic memories and revenge fantasies, so called "vicarious traumas" are also taken up. By the end of the book, the necessity of refraining from - and concrete ideas of what we can do to stop - revenge should have been made much clearer.

Reviews and Endorsements

'In this book, where revenge as a theme is described in all its expressions, there is a leitmotif that turns up all the time and is discussed in every context: the authors view revenge as a reaction against trauma, shame, denigration, loss, and similar feelings of low self value. The revenge is directed towards an avoidance of this experience, instead of acknowledging it and working it through. Therefore, Böhm and Kaplan never see revenge as a solution that can lead to real change and reconciliation, but instead it leads to a revenge spiral that will always play a part in the life of the victims. The authors discuss thoroughly how this principle expresses itself in real situations, in the playground, in couples' relationships, in sexuality, as a reaction against the Holocaust, in Rwanda, in former Yugoslavia, thus everywhere where revenge may play a part. Kaplan and Böhm show ways of how to further space for reflection, and what professional helpers can do, and also what they do, to help victims to reconciliate with traumas that may lead to revenge, to acknowledge and to survive without revenge. Thereby both authors use their research experiences and their own lengthy work with survivors from several genocides that recently have been added to our history. Although the book uses depth psychology it is not written only for professional people, and therefore it becomes an important source of information for everyone interested in this theme.'
- Marion Oliner, psychoanalyst, New York, USA

'All the collected phenomena on the theme of Revenge from many areas of research make this book into a mine of discovery for insights and differentiations. It is my wish that it will find many readers from the areas of psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, medicine, social work, education, penal law, and politics. It is also, however, suited for every interested person, because it is written in a very readable way, without simplifications.'
- Helmut Hinz, psychoanalyst, Tübingen, Germany

'This meritorius book, written by two experienced psychoanalysts, explains the mechanisms of revenge and shows ways to overcome it. It is written for everyone who wants to clarify the destructive power of revenge in the individual and in society. The overcoming of revenge is a prerequisite of the humanizing of humanity.'
- Werner G. Jeanrond, Professor of Divinity, University of Glasgow, UK

About the Author(s)

Tomas Böhm was a training psychoanalyst in private practice in Sweden, and author or co-author of a number of books dealing with xenophobia, racism and fundamentalism. He was a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association Prejudice Committee.

Suzanne Kaplanis a practicing child and training psychoanalyst. Researcher at The Hugo Valentin Centre, Uppsala University, Sweden. Publications include Children in Genocide - Extreme traumatization and affect regulation (2008). Recipient of the Hayman Prize for published work pertaining to traumatized children and adults in both 2001 and 2007.

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