Dagmar Herzog, Distinguished Professor of History and Daniel Rose Faculty Scholar at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, delivered the Carolyn Engel Luebeck Lecture entitled On Aggression: Psychoanalysis as Moral Politics in Post-Nazi Germany on November 6 in the Ohio Union.
This lecture dealt with the question of whether aggression is human nature or if it is socially induced. In her talk, Professor Herzog uncovered the astonishing array of different concepts that have shaped the understanding of psychoanalysis after World War II, and the term Trieb that was originally translated as instinct. She revealed how competing theories of drive and cruelty were, and how for many theorists Freud was either an useful resource or a huge problem.
In particular, she talked about Konrad Lorenz' On Aggression (1963). In this book, Lorenz explains that animals, especially males, are biologically programmed to fight over resources. Therefore, their behavior and aggression must be seen as natural selection. On the other hand, the West German psychoanalyst Alexander Mitscherlich, who received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade Show in 1969, alongside the protagontists of the Frankfurt School and the New Left's politicians, employed psychoanalytic thought for explaining the causes behind Nazi Germany and its aftermath in German society to the present day. Mitscherlich was certain that human behaviour could change if society was to change. Professor Herzog's conclusion was that human nature changes over time, and that Nazism doesn't come up once.
Professor Herzog has published on the histories of sexuality and gender, theology and religion, Jewish-Christian relations and Holocaust memory. Her book Sex after Fascism: Memory and Morality in Twentieth-Century Germany (2005) has been reviewed as an original contribution to the field. In addition, she has published Sexuality in Europe: A Twentieth-Century History (2011) and many more political and historical books, articles and essays. In 2012, she won a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for her work in Intellectual and Cultural History.
Read more on Professor Herzog's core bio webpage.
~ Budimka Uskokovic Tenney
Graduate Associate in GLL