The Individual, the Group and War

  • Bryant Wedge
Part of the The Conflict Series book series (CONFLICT)


A fundamental issue in the analysis of behavior is the level of focus to which attention is directed. Psychoanalysis concerns itself largely with intrapsychic forces within the individual person as these are patterned by the internalization of his intimate history; second, psychoanalysis concerns itself with the expression of these forces in the behavior of the individual person. A political scientist, J. David Singer,1 has shown that consideration of behavior of the national systems requires scarcely any appreciation of these intrapsychic forces, while the level of analysis of the international system needs none at all. Yet, there is no doubt that the manner of operation of the national and international levels of human organization depends ultimately on the participation or at least the consent of the individual persons whose aggregated behavior constitutes organized action — including war. Might we not, then, consider how the person relates to these larger contexts, how the various levels of transaction may serve to integrate the demands of drive-expression with environmental possibilities in ways that are not too threatening to survival or to such lesser expressions of love as self-esteem.


Individual Person Intergroup Conflict Group Psychology Violent Expression Wedge State 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    J. David Singer (ed.), Human Behavior and International Politics (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1965).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Muzafer Sherif, Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation: the Robber Cave Experiment (Normon, O.K.: University Book Exchange, 1961).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ralph K. White, Nobody Wanted War: Misperception in Vietnam and Other Wars (Garden City, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1968).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Urie Bronfenbrennen, Two Worlds of Childhood: U.S. and U.S.S.R. (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1970).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Eugenia V. Nomikos and Robert C. North, International Crisis: the Outbreak of World War I (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1976).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jerome D. Frank, Sanity and Survival (New York: Random House, 1967).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hans Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism (New York: Collier, 1967).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Manfred Halpern, The Morality and Politics of Intervention (New York: Council of Religion and International Affairs, 1969).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Burton and Frank Dukes 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bryant Wedge

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