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Human Violence and Its Alternatives:
An Annotated Bibliography
Ruth E. Krall
Professor Emerita of Psychology and Religion
In Western dualistic thinking structures, violence and its alternatives (in one model) are polar opposites. We find violence set up against nonviolence as if the two had nothing in common with each other. In other models, we find a continuum in which violence represents one end of the continuum and nonviolence represents the other. From a state of aggressive violence, nonviolence can appear to be the weaker and less effective method for bringing about social change.
In addition, English language structures privilege the word “violence” as having primacy. It vividly captures the human imagination while “nonviolent” alternatives are vague and appear linguistically wishy-washy. War, too, is the privileged or dominant concept—the West most often defines peace as the absence of war. These linguistic understandings do not serve the serious student of human behavior or the cause of building active, lasting, and sustainable peace.
Rather than “nonviolence,” I have chosen to emphasize John Galtung’s active terminologies for peace (communal well-being), which he describes in his 1996 book Peace by Peaceful Means, rather than negative ones (the absence of war). Perry Yoder’s book about the ancient Hebrew concept of shalom (see annotation below) has also been useful to me.
Instead of the violence/nonviolence dualism, we need a metaphor that illustrates the complex interface of active, aggressive violence with the collective well-being of active peace. I have chosen the image of two different trees of the same species which have grown together in the forest. To the casual observer the two trees now appear to be one living tree. Only when examined closely do two trunks, low to the ground, become visible. This metaphor portrays the interaction, interconnectedness, and interpenetration of human encounters with violence and its active, peacemaking alternatives.
The willingness and ability both to do violence and to promote communal well-being have a long evolutionary history for humanity. Both genes (human biology) and memes (human culture) tend to re-create and perpetuate this history in the contemporary moment. We regularly practice and participate in many different forms of violence against our fellow human beings, other life forms, and the eco-system itself. On the other hand, our species also knows the reality of love, care, compassion, altruism, and cooperation, all of which have a long biological and cultural ancestral history in human communities. We regularly demonstrate our human ability to love, to create, and to sustain deep and intimate connectedness with others.
We have state-legitimized violence (war and the death penalty) and non-legitimated personal and communal violence (criminal assault and gang rape). We also have examples of movements for social change (abolitionist and civil rights) and for personal reconciliation and healing. We have massive acts of collective violence (the European mid-twentieth century Shoah in Europe and the nuclear holocaust in Japan) and large-scale peacemaking movements (India, Poland, South Africa, and the Philippines).
It is necessary to struggle with the complexities present in the study of violence and its alternatives. We need an interdisciplinary language in order to work together across disciplinary lines. Political scientists need to be able to understand evolutionary biology and theological or ethical discourse about the topics of violence. Knowing that pre-meditated violence is the most common form of violence in human life, it is important to recognize the cognitive aspects of the human brain, not only our instinctual or innate natures. When we begin to understand how individuals and communities are committed to violence as a way to dominate others and to control them, then we begin to understand the complexity of the problem of human violence.
Transforming ViolenceThe Hydra of Lerna, a mythical monster from the ancient Greek world, is an effective metaphor for violence. It possessed seven (or nine) heads, and its poisonous breath killed all living beings it touched. When one of its heads was cut off in an attempt to kill it and dismantle its powers, the Hydra of Lerna grew two heads in the place of the severed one. Similarly, when one manifestation of violence is cut off, additional forms proliferate and manifest themselves in new configurations. The use of violence does nothing to dismantle the problem of violence and, in fact, results in its escalation.
Instead of “fighting against violence,” we must participate in an active spiritual and practical process of personal and communal transformation, which can dismantle violence by turning the individual or community away from preoccupation with fear, anger, hostility, and the intent to do violence towards someone or something else. Judaism and Christianity call this process conversion; Buddhism calls it enlightenment; the twenty-first century human consciousness movement identifies this process as lodging in evolutionary biology – by means of which humanity will eventually choose to outgrow its long, complex evolutionary history of aggression and violence.
What is needed is a radical transformation away from enmity toward friendship. When the human imagination or consciousness repudiates violence as the way to solve human problems, no psychic energy remains to sustain the individual in her or his choices to wage acts of human violence against others. The presence of violence and the presence of active peace inside the human community represent a spiritual koan with which each generation must struggle. All must ask, “In what way by my own imagination, consciousness, and behaviors do I keep the Hydra of violence alive? In what ways do I nurture friendship?”
If we choose to break the cycles of violence which we have inherited, we help to create a more peaceful future for succeeding generations of human life. We question the multi-faceted cultures of violence in which we currently live, where violence may appear to be the easiest solution to a situation of human conflict. I am optimistic that humanity can (if it will) learn to move beyond all forms of violence as the primary way we human beings use to solve conflicts – whether these be visible interpersonal conflicts of two or more individuals or the almost invisible structural conflicts that occur among various groups of people.
The bibliography below has been organized as a great old branching tree, which was two trees—violence and active peace—that have grown together, joined so closely that they have interpenetrated each other’s living tissue. The following outline may guide the reader through the work, allowing her to find topics and areas of study which interest her. No branch is complete. Rather, each area is simply suggestive of the depth of material available to the serious researcher of active peace-building.
The bibliographical entries implicitly and collectively argue that members of the peace-seeking community must abandon manipulation, all forms of domination, and the emotion of anger as the primary motivating force for social action in its collection of methodologies for human change. The goal cannot be that of fighting violence, for when directly or indirectly attacked, the violence hydra will grow more heads. Instead, we must seek effective means for transforming human individuals and their communities into life-affirming and life-sustaining presences. The great spiritual avatars of our century remind us that this means a spiritual transformation of each individual human being. Clearly, our work as peace-builders awaits us.
1. Branch One: Biological Foundations.
2. Branch Two: Psychological Foundations.
3. Branch Three: Political and Social Foundations.
4. Branch Four: Theological and Religious Foundations.
5. Branch Five: Violence as a Public Health Issue.
6. Branch Six: Personal Violence and Healing.
7. Branch Seven: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder–Healing and Reconciliation
Ethologists (animal studies in the natural environment) have long been exploring the evolutionary benefits of aggression to survival. The work of Konrad Lorenz is fundamental to understanding the evolutionary benefits of aggression inside the animal world. Some of his work has been extrapolated to human beings. In the world of human studies, the late twentieth century has provided new technologies for understanding the biology of aggression in human beings. The identification of the role of neuropeptides is just beginning to be explored.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, scientists are no longer in agreement that aggression and violence are inherent, inevitable factors in human life. A certain group of scientists is beginning to examine the genetic benefits of altruism and cooperation as evolutionary support for human survival. Not only do they look to the aggressive and often violent chimpanzees, they see the peaceful bonobo monkeys as informative about our common evolutionary history with our primate relatives.
Adams, David, ed. The Seville Statement on Violence: Preparing the Ground for the Constructing of Peace. Paris: UNESCO, 1991. Global Movement for a Culture of Peace. David Adams, 2009.
In his discussion of the “Seville Statement on Violence” (May 10, 1986, Seville Spain), Adams identifies key components of the statement of world-renowned biological scientists who gathered in Seville, Spain, in May 1986. Their statement challenged the biological pessimism that concludes that violence and war are part of humanity’s common evolutionary history and is, therefore, an inevitable component of human cultural life. These scientists concluded that (human) biology does not condemn humans to war. They concluded that biology could not be used historically to explain war, nor could it be used to justify war. The brochure contains the entire statement as well as commentary upon the statement.
Brain, Paul F. Hormones and Aggression. Vol. 2. Montreal: Elsevier, 1979.
Brain’s book is one of the mid-century examinations of the bio-physiological mechanisms of aggression. In the years since the book has been published, more work has been done by animal and human researchers. The benefit of this book, however, lies in its typology of aggression. Brain teases out a variety of forms of biologically driven aggression among animals. This is helpful to beginning students as they start to think about the correlation of aggression to violence. The book identifies several different definitions of aggression and studies the relationship of aggression to biological mechanisms of organism arousal.
Types of aggression from animal studies include predatory aggression for the purposes of feeding, escape-driven, pain-induced, mate selection, defensive, and conditioned aggression. Types of aggression from human studies include intentional, planned, or premeditated aggression, impulsive, media-generated, military, criminal, and defensive aggression.
De Waal, Frans. “Who are We?” Shift: At the Frontiers of Consciousness Dec. 2006-Feb. 2007: 17-19.
De Waal’s short article describes and discusses several of the issues that emerge when human beings extrapolate from primate behavior that we human beings are an evolutionarily and innately violent species. He broadens the discussion by contrasting chimpanzee research with bonobo research. He asks, for example, whether warfare is in our DNA?: “… [I]t cannot be coincidental that the only animals in which gangs of males expand their territory by deliberately exterminating neighboring males happen to be humans and chimpanzees.”
In discussing an experiment with rhesus and stumptail monkeys, De Wall concluded at the end of the study that peacemaking is an acquired skill rather than instinctual behavior. In the experimental social culture created for the two groups of monkeys, each group reached a balance between competition and cooperation. This short article, written for a popular audience, provides a good introduction to De Wall and his scientific research among primates.
Dugan, Maire A. “Aggression.” Beyond Intractability. Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, 2004.
In this on-line essay, Dugan reviews the major theorists of aggression during the mid- to late twentieth-century. She builds a heuristic model in which theories of aggression form a continuum. Innate or instinctual theorists (Freud, Lorenz) are considered at one end of the spectrum, Dollard and Berkowitz in a mid-zone, and environmental and learning theorists, such as Bandura, on the oppositional end of the continuum.
For the beginning student, this article is a very helpful introduction. While each theorist’s contributions are identified and discussed in an abbreviated fashion, the range of opinion and research is succinctly and accurately introduced. Additional resources are noted for further study.
Gleitman, Henry. “The Biological Sources of Aggression.” Psychology. New York: W.W. Norton, 1986. 339-349.
Any competent introductory psychology book will have a section about the psychobiology of human aggression. Gleitman’s text provides a typology of aggression which is useful for the beginning students to consider so that they can differentiate between varying forms of aggression and violence. He notes that predatory eating behaviors are usually excluded from the aggression/anger/violence axis because a different area of the brain’s hypothalmus is involved in food predation. And considering that psychobiologists restrict the word “aggression” to conflict between two members of the same species, interspecies “violence” is excluded from these animal studies.
Lorenz, Konrad. On Aggression. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2002.
Ethologist Konrad Lorenz describes and discusses species-specific instinctual behavior patterns. Some of these behaviors establish positive bonds between members of the same species, for example mating and young-care behaviors. Others demonstrate the struggle for social dominance, territory, and resources. Lorenz then extrapolates from animal behaviors in their natural environment to form hypotheses about human behaviors. One of Lorenz’ contributions was the formulation of the relationship between frustration and aggression. He provides a very good description of the role of ritualized fighting and bluffing actions among animals in which appeasement rituals appear to protect the weaker, less-dominant animal’s life. Lorenz and the authors who follow him discuss the absence of appeasement rituals in human situations of violent conflict.
After the conclusion of World War Two, social psychologists began to study the issue of violence. In particular, the question emerged about how individuals could participate in atrocities such as the Third Reich Shoah or the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some of these studies described psychological mechanisms of social control, internal psychological processes of conformity, and obedience to authority.
In this section, various authors employ differing definitions for emotional states. It is useful for students to begin to differentiate words, such as anger, rage, conflict, aggression, assertiveness, and violence. While some of these words carry overlapping meanings in popular culture, the scientific, philosophical, and ethical communities usually use precise terminology. Students who wish to work seriously in the fields of peace studies must begin the process of understanding the interdisciplinary meanings of vocabulary in order to move back and forth among the various scientific approaches to the study of human behavior. Some of the authors, such as Deming and Nhat Hanh, promote nonviolence in working with natural human emotions related to anger.
Averill, James R. Anger and Aggression: An Essay on Emotion. New York: Springer and Verlag, 1982.
In a chapter called “Historical Teachings on Anger” (73-102), James Averill provides the contemporary reader with short summaries about the thinking of Western classical philosophers and theologians regarding the emotion of anger and its relationship to aggression. Included are Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Lactanius, Aquinas, and Descartes. Instead of conflating anger and aggression into one topic, Averill makes a helpful distinction between anger and instrumental aggression (which may or may not be related to the emotion of anger).
Deming, Barbara. On Anger/New Men, New Women. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, Inc, 1983.
In this important essay, Deming begins with the concept that “We must resist whatever gives encouragement to the will to dominate.” (3) Deming’s long personal history as a nonviolent activist is reflected in her resistance to bombs and bullets as a way of solving international problems and conflicts among nation-states. She was one of the first North American feminist authors to make the connection between anti-war activism and anti-racism activism. She acknowledges structural violence issues in her brief discussion of poverty, absence of proper medical care, silenced political voices and hanger.
In this essay she raises the urgent question of “should the women’s movement remain non-violent?” In her discussion of Erik Erikson’s letter to Gandhi written after Gandhi’s assassination (Gandhi’s Truth, 1969), Deming begins to work with women’s rage and anger inside of male-female relationships. She distinguishes between needed and healthy anger and that anger which is destructive to self and others. She raises the important question which feminist women face: Can women live in trusting relationships with men inside patriarchal structures and ideologies. In this monograph, containing two separate chapters, Deming reveals the depth of her personal commitment to nonviolent activism in all situations of oppression – the direct killing of warfare and the indirect killing of social systems (and ideologies) that oppress.
Festinger, Leon. Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1957.
Festinger’s research in the mid-twentieth century focused upon the phenomena of cognitive consonance and cognitive dissonance. In situations of cognitive consonance, an individual’s behaviors are congruent with her or his attitudes, knowledge structures, belief structures, feelings and centrally held values. In situations, however, of cognitive dissonance (psychological discomfort caused by inconsistencies among a person’s behaviors, knowledge, feelings, attitudes, beliefs and central values), the individual begins psychological processes to bring the inner self’s experiences back into harmony. Behaviors, beliefs, attitudes or central core values are all subject to change in this situation as the person seeks to bring an inner equilibrium (cognitive consonance) back into balance.
Grossman, Dave. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. New York: Little, Brown, 1995.
David Grossman is a former United States Army Ranger and paratrooper who teaches psychology at West Point and Military Science at Arkansas State University. In this book, he examines the question of how the military creates individuals who are willing to kill other human beings. He extrapolates from his military experience to civilian life (in particular media violence).
To understand the reality that most adults must face extensive desensitizing before they are willing to kill, Grossman reviews civilian and military psychological research. The book contains information on the legal killing of warfare as well as illegal atrocities. For anyone seeking to understand the psychology of modern warfare, this very readable and compelling book provides a useful introduction to the training of warriors. Rooted in real life military experience, the book does not glamorize the killing of warfare. In addition, the book raises profound questions about media violence, arcade game violence, and cyberspace game violence as these correlate with real violence in American life.
Harrison, Beverly Wildung. “The Power of Anger in the Work of Love: Christian Ethics for Women and Other Strangers.” Essays in Feminist Social Ethics. Ed. Carol S. Robb. Boston: Beacon Press, 1985.
Beverly Harrison’s inaugural address at Union Theological Seminary in New York marked her position as Professor of Christian Social Ethics. It is the lead essay in a book of collected chapters, speeches, and essays. This essay is a powerful examination, from a feminist hermeneutic and ethical position, of the role of anger in women’s lives as well as in social change environments. Harrison examines and illustrates the multiple ways in which a feminist social ethic provides insight into the ethical tensions present within the second wave of feminist thought as well as within concrete struggles, by women, for full gender equality and justice.
Harrison recognizes and validates feminist women’s anger as essential to the work of full liberation. Harrison is aware of the feminist question, “Is it possible to be a feminist and remain, with integrity, affiliated with the Christian Church? “ (xxii) Robb, as Harrison’s editor, responds that this book of essays on contemporary ethical issues presents Harrison’s mid-career struggle and debate with this question. For Harrison, anger becomes essential to the work of love as women work towards full liberation for themselves and toward justice for others in situations of oppression and repression.
Hooks, bell. Killing Rage: Ending Racism. NewYork: Henry Holt and Company, 1995.
In this important book, bell hooks examines the realities and consequences of American racism and white supremacy. She addresses issues of identity, victimization, accountability, black power, and the need for political resistance – all from within her own identity as a black, revolutionary, feminist woman. She examines reasons for hope and makes suggestions for anti-racism activist work within the black community and within the larger American community.
The book has its own internal coherence. However, individual chapters can be read out of sequence. Its careful dissection of black rage provides all readers with important information about needed social action towards the goals of recognizing, acknowledging, and ending racism in American life. The book is readable and accessible to undergraduate students.
Keen, Sam. Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.
—. Faces of the Enemy. Dirs. Bill Jersey, Jeffrey Friedman. 1987. DVD. Quest Productions, 2005.
In his recent important cumulative body of work, Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination, philosopher-psychologist Sam Keen examines the psycho-social process by which enemies are created and the processes which governments use to manipulate citizens into enemy hatred. By utilizing visual propaganda iconography from many different warring nations during the twentieth-century, Keen examines the willingness and ability of human beings to participate in mass actions of war and communal violence against other human beings. He contends that all wars (and violence) begin first in the human imagination. The psycho-social processes which he describes are those of enemy-making. He raises an important question for all readers to consider: “Are human beings by nature warlike or peacelike?” Does the problem of human violence lodge in human genes? As a theologically aware philosopher, Keen raises the question of human evil within the context of war in which each side claims, “We are right. We are good. They are evil.”
Throughout this work, various concepts are described in sufficient detail that students can grasp their essential elements: disinformation, scapegoating, prejudice formation, propaganda, and the power of manipulated visual imagery to create collective enemies.
In one segment, Keen explores the interconnectedness of personal enemies and private wars with those of public enemies and public wars. As he continues, he asks important questions about the ways in which we can unmake our personal and our public (or political) enemies.
* Note: a privately printed and newly revised edition is available directly from Keen. The book is packaged with a DVD that contains three separate slide lectures: (1) Enemy-making; (2) The New Enemy; (3) Beyond Enmity. The package also includes a study/discussion guide for individuals and groups.
Krall, Ruth E. “Anger and an Anabaptist Feminist Hermeneutic.” The Conrad Grebel Review 16.2 (1996).
This article stems from a Women Doing Theology Consultation at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnepeg. In this context, Krall worked on the topic of experienced and encountered anger and rage within women’s lives. She begins with a call for specificity and personal story telling as the foundation for re-thinking an implicit Mennonite theology of anger. Krall brings her health care background into dialogue with other feminist thinkers such as hooks and Harrison (see above), In Krall’s review of related literature, she includes theologians, ethicists, biology and medical science, psychoanalysts, psychologists, philosophers, essayists and contemporary social critics as she examines the historical Western legacy of thinking. In addition, she looks at emerging issues in the bio-medical and bio-molecular sciences as the contemporary world becomes aware of the role of the neuro-peptides in the experience and expression of anger. The biological cost of anger as a motivator for social activism is briefly explored.
In the final concluding section of this paper, Krall declares her disbelief in the usefulness of anger as a continuous motivational force for social activism in situations of oppression and violence. While the emotion of anger is useful as a warning system of the body that something is wrong; the physiological costs to the body of holding on the anger are great and must be acknowledged. The healer and the peace-builder “must learn the lessons of others’ anger towards herself and of her own angers” for the powers of transformation to bring reconciliation and for healing to be able to occur in complex interpersonal and social situations of injustice and oppression.
Lazarus, Richard S. Emotions and Adaptation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.
Quoting Aristotle (Rhetoric), Lazarus defines anger as “a belief that we, or our friends, have been unfairly slighted which causes us both painful feelings and a desire or impulse for revenge” (138). In chapter six, “Goal Incongruent Emotions,” he describes “goal-incongruent emotions” or “negative emotions” and identifies their origins in human situations of harm, loss, or threat (217-263). These emotional provocations include anger, fright and anxiety, sadness, envy or jealousy, and disgust. He views human aggression as a response to the frustration or thwarting of a goal commitment with anger being viewed as the primary motivator of the drive to aggression.
Lerner, M. J., and C. H. Simmons. “Observers’ Reaction to the Innocent Victim: Compassion or Rejection.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 4 (1966): 203-210.
In a series of research studies, Lerner and his associates described a pattern of behavior in the observers or witnesses of victimization. He hypothesized that human beings share a presupposition that the world is a just place. In a just world, people get what they deserve and they deserve what they get. He called this “just world theory.”
In this theory, victims also believe they have earned or deserve their condition in some way. By means of just world thinking, victims are held responsible for their victimization by another person or group of individuals. Lerner hypothesizes that in an attempt to maintain cognitive consonance, individuals attempt to find a mentally satisfying fit between what people do (action) and what happens to them (consequence). By this means, individuals and groups attribute causality, blame, and responsibility to the victims. In short, the victim is held morally and personally responsible for the act of victimization perpetrated by another individual.
Nhat Hanh, Thich. Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames. New York: Riverhead Press, 2001.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, writes from exile in Plum Village, France. He is a poet, essayist and a spiritual leader in the Vietnamese Buddhist community. He regularly teaches in the United States and has been an active participant in Christian-Buddhist dialogue events.
He begins his book about anger with a discussion of happiness (suffering less). In his view, happiness is developed inside the self and need not be dependent upon external circumstances. Anchoring compassionate listening as the necessary approach to suffering (and its concomitant emotion of anger), Nhat Hanh begins his teaching by describing the roots of anger in the human physical body and the human mind.
This complex book of spiritual teachings regarding anger walks the reader through a Buddhist discussion of anger as well as through specific steps and actions which individuals can take to diminish the suffering of anger inside themselves as well as in the external community of relationships with others.
Nhat Hanh, Thich. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. New York: Bantam, 1991.
In his forward to the book, H.H. the Dalai Lama writes that although “attempting to bring about world peace through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way” (vii). Nhat Hanh’s book on peace-building is based in this premise. Each step of an individual’s daily journey includes decisions about being peace in this particular present moment. As individuals practice mindfulness and awareness of the smallest action in their daily lives, they can begin the journey towards inner peace. Having laid the foundation in awareness and awakening for internal transformation, they gain the capacities necessary in order to become genuine peace-creators in the external world.
Philip Zimbardo has created a slide show review of the historic prison experiment at Stanford University. The experiment, which was scheduled for two weeks, had to be discontinued at day six because of psychological distress among subject-participants. A day-by-day summary is provided. In addition, Zimbardo makes connections to real life prison events and to real life atrocities committed in military jails during the second Iraq war. The process of dehumanization is one that is essential for students to consider. Zimbardo introduces this slide show with questions about the nature of evil and those who participate in it.
The violence of the twentieth century (perhaps the most bloody since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) has caused theologians, ethicists, social critics, psychologists, and biologists all to revisit the question of human nature and human culture.
Beginning with the Berkeley studies in the 1950’s, the question of authoritarian cultures and social training for obedience has been examined from multiple perspectives. The section below provides information from social psychologists, Christian theologians, wicca, and social criticism essays. These works, taken as a whole, create a more thorough awareness than any individual one can. Some provide windows into understanding the moral issues of obedience in situations of injustice, oppression, and active violence against others; some examine the question of non-violent resistance and disobedience; some explore violence prevention.
The search for alternatives to violence remains an illusive reality for the globe’s citizens. One approach that has recently surfaced involved a melding of community development approaches with public health medicine approaches. In these models of violence prevention, citizens and governmental bodies are urged to study their communities to understand where violence is already present. More importantly, however, these approaches look to identify “at-risk” communities and to make necessary legal, social, economic, and other socio-political changes in order to prevent violence from beginning.
Cohen, Larry, Rachel Davis, and Leslie Mikkelsen. “Comprehensive Prevention: Improving Health Outcomes through Prevention.” Minority Health Today 1 (March/April 2000): 38-41. Prevention Institute.
Social worker and community development organizer, Larry Cohen, and his associates at the Prevention Institute in Oakland, California have developed a model which they call a “Spectrum of Prevention.” This model forms the theoretical structure within which local communities can do community-wide assessment activities of the potentiality and actuality of violence within their communities.
Any individual or organization wishing to examine violence in their particular living situation can utilize the tool developed by the Prevention Institute. In so doing, individuals, groups, and governmental structures can assess the level of actual violence in all segments of a particular community as well as identifying potentially violent situations or structures in the making. The following website provides information about the institute and about its tools, including Spectrum of Violence assessment methodology: http://www.preventioninstitute.org/tools.html.
Fischer, Louis, ed. The Essential Gandhi. New York: Vintage Press, 1983.
Gandhi devoted his life to practicing nonviolence against structural violence and colonialism. In doing so, he understood much about the appeal of violence and its role in society and politics. Editor Louis Fischer brings together a variety of materials written or spoken by Gandhi in this collection. He contextualizes Gandhi’s own words by describing the situation or situations in which they originated. One of the themes lifted out in this book is Gandhi’s awareness that resorting to violence was a demeaning act for the perpetrator of violence as well as one for his/her victims. This book is an elementary and introductory collection to Gandhi’s thought and practice.
Groebel, Jo, and Robert A. Hinde, eds. Aggression and War: Their Biological and Social Bases. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980.
The essays in this book explore both individual and group aggression in more depth, seeking to find comparisons and correlations between the two kinds of violence. Except in pathological examples an individual’s potential for violence and aggressive behavior towards others is not necessarily realized in overt behavior. Even genetic factors, hormonal shifts, and neural patterning do not explain human violence. The biological imperative to aggression is likely enhanced by human experience – most especially in early childhood. Also in play are beliefs and values which are incorporated into the personality as it inherits and thus encounters a pre-existing socio-cultural structure.
At the group level, the key is the climate created by an aggregate of individuals in which external and internal elicitors are present with sufficient strengths to create a collective willingness and capability to aggress. The aggression can take two forms. Either the group responds to a perceived threat to its’ interests or values, or group members select a target simply to demonstrate their aggressive behavior towards others.
Holsopple, Mary Yoder, Ruth E. Krall and Sharon Weaver Pittman. Building Peace: Overcoming Violence in Communities. Geneva, Switzerland: World Council of Churches, 2004.
This small volume builds upon the work of Larry Cohen and associates from the Prevention Institute in Oakland, California. Utilizing the models of public health (primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention) as well as community development models, this book suggests ways that individuals and communities can work towards the goal of preventing violence from beginning. In addition, the authors build upon the ancient Jewish concept of shalom to encourage active, preventive peace work as a way to create positive peace in individual and communal lives. Holsopple and Pittman are social workers while Krall is a therapist-theologian. Each has lived and worked internationally as well as locally within the United States. Each has seen, first hand, the devastating aftermaths of violence in war zones, in urban areas of the United States, and in the intimate personal lives of their clients and friends. This book was published under the framework of the World Council of Church’s Decade of Overcoming Violence.
Janeway, Elizabeth. Powers of the Weak. New York: Morrow Quill Paperbacks, 1981
Janeway considers situations of political tyranny and totalitarian regimes in which individual and communal human rights are routinely violated. She examines the nature of power in individuals and in collective groups, as well as power from below social position. In her discussion of “powers of the weak,” Janeway identifies two options that are essential for oppressed people. The first of these powers is the “power of disbelief,” by which people begin to recognize the disinformation, propaganda, and cultural lies used to keep them in their place. The second power is that of “coming together” in collective action. Janeway’s description of these two weak-sounding powers includes informed awareness that those who occupy positions of power often seek to eliminate those individuals and groups who exercise these powers successfully in social activism on their own behalf or on the behalf of others.
Kelman, Herbert C., and Lee V. Hamilton. Crimes of Obedience. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988.
Both Kelman, a Jew who emigrated with his immediate family to the United States just one week before the Nazi invasion of Belgium, and Hamilton, who grew up in the U.S. south during the 1950s and 1960s, are concerned with “the consequences that often ensue when authority gives orders exceeding the bounds of morality and law” (xi). Beginning with the My Lai massacre, they provide careful analysis of this and other crimes of obedience that is solidly anchored in social-psychology theory and research, while also applying the terminology and conceptual frameworks of behavioral science. The authors’ careful and detailed review of social science literature establishes a solid framework for contemporary applications. In their examination of civilian and military situations where morality is compromised by obedience to illegal or unjust orders, they provide the reader with a structure to understand crimes of obedience as a form of structural or systemic violence.
King, Martin Luther, Jr. “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” King, Martin Luther King, Jr. Why We Can’t Wait. NY: Signet, 1964. African Studies Center. University of Pennsylvania, n.d.
On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. sat in a Birmingham jail cell and began a letter to Southern Christian clergy who had published a critical letter about the demonstrations in Birmingham that had led to King’s arrest and imprisonment. Noting that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” King continued, “what affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
Invoking the Hindu Gandhi, prophets from Jewish scriptures, and theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, King details the injustice of American apartheid in the Jim Crow south. Then he comes to the question of “disobeying” the law. He notes that there are two types of Laws—just and unjust—and makes the case for Christians to practice non-violent disobedience to unjust laws.
Kramer, Joel, and Diana Alstad. The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power. Berkeley, Calif.: Frog, 1993.
This important book contains a series of short essays about authoritarian power as it manifests itself in cult violence. The central organizing concept of the various essays is an examination of the role of authoritarian personalities as evidenced in abusive cult leaders. The range of topics forms a continuum from overt, physical abuse and coercion to subtle, covert psychological and spiritual mind-control. The authors include important information about victims of abuse. In addition, they make specific suggestions for breaking free from organized abusive cults. The book uses well-known case materials as well as ones which are less known. For anyone seeking to understand the violence of religious and spiritual cult leaders against their followers, this book provides a beginning resource.
Maple, Terry, and Douglas Matheson, eds. Aggression, Hostility and Violence. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973.
This book holds a collection of historically important essays which have helped to shape how Western cultures have viewed the relationship of aggression to violence and its expression in war.
• Sigmund Freud, “Why War?” 1932. 16-27
• Konrad Lorenz, “Ritualized Fighting.” 1964. 41-57.
• Bronislaw Malinowski, “An Anthropological Analysis of War.” 1941. 78-103.
• Neal E. Miller, “The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis.” 1941. 103-105.
• William James, “The Moral Equivalent of War.” 1910. 258-269.
Milgram, Stanley. Obedience to Authority. New York: Harper and Row, 1974.
This book documents Milgram’s now classic study on how far research subjects would go in their own self-perception that they were harming another individual within the context of following instructions given to them by the research team authorities. In Milgram’s analysis of his data, he believed that a critical factor lay in a personal history in which there had been a continual stress on the importance of obedience to legitimate authority, first in the family, secondly in public education, and finally within institutional settings such as the military or the workplace. A “good” child does what she is told to do; so also does the “good” adult follow the instructions of employers or military commanders. Milgram’s analysis of the psychological mechanism of individuals in situations with clear “authorities in control” helps us to begin to understand how healthy individuals (or groups) can choose to dehumanize their victims and participate in atrocities. In addition, he raises a profound question: when one obeys an order initiated by a legitimate authority figure, who is morally responsible for the action, the person who carries out the order or the person who initiates the order?
Nhat Hanh, Thich. Being Peace. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 1987.
Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who acted on behalf of victims of the Vietnam-United States war, moved to Plum Village, France in political exile. He entered a period of activism in Vietnam and in the United States in an effort to end the war. This book contains a series of talks which he gave in the United States to peace workers and meditation students during his 1985 tour of United States Buddhist meditation centers. They address suffering, reconciliation, and peace.
This book includes his poem, “Call Me by My True Names,” which he wrote in response to hearing about the rape of a 12 year old girl by a Thai sea pirate in the Gulf of Siam. Following the rape, the young girl jumped over the edge of the boat and drowned. In this poem, he asserts that violence against the sea pirate is not the answer. Instead, he reminds his readers, that we are all interconnected with the sea pirate and the young girl, and consequently we are all partially responsible for the nature of the violent relationship in which they found themselves.
The book’s final chapter lists and discusses the fourteen precepts of the Order of Interbeing – the precepts which guide the community of Plum Village towards peaceful living with all forms of sentient life.
Nhat Hanh, Thich. Joyfully Together: The Art of Building a Harmonious Community. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2003.
For Nhat Hanh, building a joyful, practicing community “is the most precious work we can do as practitioners (5). In this book, he writes about real methods that Plum Village practitioners have developed to deal with real conflicts inside the community of shared faith and practice. These methods, he claims, are methods of transformation which can be applied to any form of community: families, businesses, community organizations and/or religious organizations and communities.
The underlying concern of the book is practice – living the values of peace and liberation from violence and suffering on a day-to-day basis.
Prothrow-Stith, Deborah, and Michale Wiseman. Deadly Consequences: How Violence is Destroying Our Teenage Population and a Plan to Begin Solving the Problem. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991.
Prothrow Stith is a public health physician and she examines the issue of juvenile violence from the multifaceted perspectives of criminology, epidemiology, public health and biological science literatures. The book considers issues of structural or contextual violence as these are expressed in the poverty of American city ghettos and impoverished rural areas. This book is essential reading for anyone wanting to address issues of violence as it is experienced and expressed within United States adolescent populations
Sharp, Gene. The Politics of Nonviolent Action: Power and Struggle, Part One. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973.
—. The Politics of Nonviolent Action: The Methods of Nonviolent Action, Part Two. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973.
—. The Politics of Nonviolent Action: The Dynamics of Nonviolent Action, Part Three. Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973.
In his three-volume series of books examining the politics of nonviolent action, Gene Sharp provides a primer on nonviolent activism from a pragmatic point of view. For the most part he does not examine religious belief systems and their call to a principled ethic of nonviolence. However, Sharp’s understanding of the relationship of power to the methodologies of nonviolence in unequaled. This is essential reading for non-violent activists and peace-builders in a variety of violent situations and contexts of injustice.
Starhawk [Miriam Simos]. Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority and Mystery. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987. Starhawk uses the ancient Sumerian myth of Inanna’s Descent as the backdrop for this important book about learning to disobey the dominant systems of injustice and their commonly accepted cultural practices of violence. Long a nonviolent activist and trainer, she draws upon these experiences. In the introduction she writes, “Our conditioning to obey authority is the foundation of the culture of domination” (10). As she teases out Western principles of legitimate and illegitimate authority, she provides the reader with the impetus to think about one’s own relationships with authority and patterns of culturally-authorized obedience. She continues, “Only when someone resists, does another possibility reveal itself. Until then, we did not realize that we could say no.” (10). Her discussion of the “jail in one’s own mind” provides an essential look at the psychological resistance to disobedience even in those committed to nonviolent resistance. This is a provocative book for beginning and seasoned political activists.
The theological question of evil intersects with the human experience of domination, oppression, repression, tyranny, violence and violation. In this section, a variety of theologians, religiously-inspired philosophers, and biblical scholars address these questions from inside the religious establishment.
Several authors make the point that the peace-builder’s spiritual journey to internal peace is essential to her or his work in the external world. In particular, Father John Dear, a Jesuit priest describes the Ignatian Spiritual disciplines as essential to his own understanding of being called to the work of peace.
While not technically a theologian, Hershberger (a sociologist and historian) represents an Anabaptist-Mennonite voice from the renaissance of Anabaptist Studies that occurred during the early part of the twentieth-century. His work both reflected customary Mennonite beliefs and practices as well as shaped them for new generations of Mennonites. Beginning with the American Civil Rights’ Movement and followed by the American Vietnam war, challenges to Hershberger’s classical position were presented by Mennonite and anti-Apartheid demonstrators and anti-war activists. As Gandhi’s and King’s writings about nonviolent resistance began to take hold in the American imagination, Mennonite communities began to split on the issue of nonresistance and nonviolent activism. Nevertheless, Hershberger’s work needs to be understood by Anabaptist/Mennonite scholars and activists for this is the framework by which the Mennonite Church negotiated a conscientious objection position during World Wars One and Two, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
For a thorough and contemporary examination of the Just War theory in Catholicism and Protestantism, I have turned to Cahill’s excellent book. As a Christian ethicist from the Roman Catholic tradtion, her approach to Christian differences on the topic of war is both informed and respectful. Cahill sets the discussion inside the question of Christian discipleship and Christian ideals about the Kingdom of God.
Bainton, Roland H. Christian Attitudes Towards War and Peace: A Historical Survey and Critical Re-evaluation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1960.
Bainton’s mid-twentieth-century book remains useful as it surveys Christendom’s attitudes towards war across the centuries. The book begins with an examination of peace in antiquity. Included are Greco-Roman ideals about the conduct of just war. In addition, Bainton reviews biblical views of war in Jewish and Christian scriptures. As he begins his review of Christianity, he notes the pacifism of the early church, and then goes on to describe crusades and holy wars; just war theology and practice; and an ethics of war in an era of nuclear weaponry.
Brown, Robert McAfee. Religion and Violence. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1987.
Brown’s book is a very useful introduction to questions of violence from the world view of American protestant traditions. A theologian, scholar, Presbyterian minister, and military chaplain during the second World War, Brown defines and clarifies the term “violence” and its many forms. For the student seeking to understand systemic or structural violence, Brown’s discussion relies on Brazilian Dom Helder Camara’s identification of the cycles and structures of violence (repressive, revolutionary, and reactive). Brown also reviews the classical Christian doctrine of the just war. In this context, he discusses pacifism as well as the issue of “needed revolutionary processes in situations of political and social tyranny.”
The second edition also addresses racism, nuclear weaponry, terrorism, the death penalty, sexual violence, the drug culture, propaganda and disinformation, and armed revolution as forms of violence that need to be re-examined. Brown’s death in the late 1990’s means that the book will be allowed to remain out-of-print. By a special arrangement with the publisher, it is possible to get copies of the book re-produced for academic use.
Buber, Martin. “Kain.” Good and Evil. New York: Charles Scribner’s, 1953. 81-89.
Jewish philosopher Martin Buber explores and exegetes the Jewish scripture’s account about the first fratricide (the story of Kain and Abel) within the greater context of the Torah and its accounts of creation. In doing so, Buber distinguishes between disobedience (the tree of knowledge in the garden of Eden story) and murder. In this manner, he begins his discussion of the presence of goodness and evil in human life.
Cahill, Lisa Sowle. Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory. Minneapolis: Augsburg/Fortress Press. 1994.
This book combines Christian history (from the early church through the twentieth century), Christian theology, and ethics on themes of violence and war. She deals forthrightly with major Christian thinkers (Augustine and Aquinas, for example) as the Just War theory emerged inside Christendom as a justification for Christian participation in war’s killing. Her chapter on Christian pacifist war-resistance is both fair and respectful. The final chapters deal with issues as they were defined at the end of the twentieth-century; consequently, the new century’s issue of religiously-inspired terrorism and counter-terrorism is not covered.
Dear, John. Living Peace: A Spirituality of Contemplation. New York: Doubleday, 2000.
As a Jesuit, Father Dear practices the spiritual principles identified centuries ago by Ignatius. This book is, in essence, a spiritual handbook for individuals who seek to bring about a more peaceful world for themselves and for others. Dear has long been a Roman Catholic peace activist and has many other books available. However, in this book he clearly identifies the inner journey (of personal spirituality) as essential. Utilizing solitude, silence, prayer, contemplation, meditation, and mindfulness, the inner journey is facilitated in order that the outer journey may be grounded.
Douglass, James W. The Nonviolent Coming of God. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1991.
James Douglass is a Roman Catholic theologian and an anti-nuclear peace activist. He begins his provocative book back in Jerusalem at the time of Christ and the early Christian movement. This was a time of multiple Roman crucifixion scenes – a form of “deterrence.” Douglass’ decade of passionate peace work provide the reader with a vision of Jesus that challenges the necessity for violence in the political realm. The book is a plea to American Christians to engage in a prophetic critique of their nation’s war-making culture and ideology. Douglass compares first-century Jerusalem with twentieth-century United States. In so doing, he engages the reader in a process of grief similar to that grief of Jesus as he brooded over the city walls of his beloved Jerusalem – and then uttered prophetic words of its coming destruction. This, Douglass’ fourth book about a theology of nonviolence, is “about Jesus of Nazareth and his hope for transformation at the end of his and our worlds – an effort to discern Jesus’ own eschatology of nonviolence.”
Hershberger, Guy F. War, Peace and Nonresistance. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1944.
—. The Way of the Cross in Human Relations. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1956.
While these are two very different books that were written in very different contexts, I will treat them as a historical unit. Hershberger was part of the Anabaptist Studies renaissance in the Mennonite Church. As a historian and sociologist he provides the current reader with the context of his thinking about non-resistance as the acceptable form of Christian life inside unjust social structures (including war’s killing fields). The 1944 book was written in the context of World War Two and Mennonite doctrines of nonresistance and conscientious objection to war in all of its forms. The 1956 book was written in an American context which included labor unions, a beginning civil rights’ movement, and the Korean War.
As Mennonites began to move towards full assimilation in American society, Hershberger’s views began to be challenged. No longer was there a monolithic Mennonite theology of war, violence, and social justice. However, for Anabaptist-Mennonite peace scholars and church historians, these two volumes provide a historical context for understanding the Mennonite church at the mid-century point.
King, Jr., Martin Luther. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ed. James Washington. San Francisco: Harper, 1990.
This book contains essays, sermons, speeches, transcripts of television appearances, excerpts from King’s own books, and published interviews. It provides a good introduction to King’s life work and thoughts on nonviolence as a means for human liberation. The power of dissent and disobedience are central to King’s understanding of how religious individuals need to act in the face of injustice, oppression, and tyranny. The complexity of King’s own intellectual journey is hinted at inside this collection. As he conversed with America about racism, he also conversed about class issues and about war itself.
Niebuhr, Reinhold. Moral Man and Immoral Society: a Study in Ethics and Politics. New York: Scribner’s, 1932.
This classic defense of Christian realism makes the case for why Christians in human societies sometimes resort to violence. Written as fascism was rising in Europe and Asia, Niebuhr and other theologians faced the problem of enormous evil in the world created by a benevolent and gracious God. He concludes that while individuals want to, and do, live according to a high personal standard, the same behavior for the aggregate society is impossible.
Soelle, Dorothee. Creative Disobedience. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press, 1995.
As a post-Shoah theologian with a German identity, Soelle reworks the classical Christian theological doctrine of obedience in order to think through its oppressive aspects and effects in World War II Germany. She begins her work, she says, “as a German, as a Christian, and as a woman.” These three forms of identity have demanded obedience. She writes, “It is painful to discover that one obeyed the rules of a game without a clear personal understanding as to where these rules would lead. One feels anger against those who enforce obedience. And shame at being collectively obedient too long. Shame, however, is a revolutionary emotion, as Karl Marx once said. It changes those who venture to go through it” (ix).
In this important book, Soelle ventures through her experience of shame as she examines blind obedience through the lens of a personal confrontation with the Christ of Christian theology. In doing so, she takes her reader with her. In the process, she begins to transform our understanding of the Christian doctrine of obedience and the role that it played in the Nazi holocaust.
Tillich, Paul. Theology of Peace. Ed. Ronald H. Stone. Philadelphia: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990.
In this collection of essays, which range from 1938 until 1968, Protestant theologian Paul Tillich calls his own approach to peace “faithful realism” and by this he means that Christians can not ignore the socio-political realities of a broken world. Tillich addresses the church and also humanity at large. His approach is ecumenical as he suggests deepening the dialogue about peace among many different faith communities. While these essays contain references to specific socio-economic-political realities from the beginning moments of World War Two through the nuclear era, the depth of his theological reflection remains pertinent to today’s world. Of particular interest is Tillich’s commentary on the relationship of Jews and Christians in the context of the Nazi era.
Tillich’s concerns with power and justice as theological issues for Christians draw attention to issues of social welfare for humanity inside a world system of nation-state power politics. Tillich’s posthumous editor, Roland Stone, provides an introductory set of paragraphs for each essay. He provides context for the reader and a beginning analysis of the importance of Tillich’s work to specific historical events.
Wink, Walter. Engaging the Powers: v. 1: The Language of Powers in the New Testament. Minneapolis: Augsburg/Fortress Press, 1983.
—. Engaging the Powers: v.2: The Invisible Forces That Dominate Human Existence. Minneapolis: Augsburg/Fortress Press, 1983.
—. Engaging the Powers: v.3: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination. Minneapolis: Augsburg/Fortress, 1983.
In this important trilogy of books, Christian theologian Walter Wink examines the “powers and principalities” of human systems, those often vague and indescribable systems of organizing power that dominate human cultures. In the first volume, Wink exegetes Jewish and Christian scriptures. He then moves into a description and discussion of these often invisible spiritual powers of domination, injustice, and evil. It is best to read these three books in the sequence that Wink intended them to be read.
Yoder, Perry B. Shalom: The Bible’s Word for Salvation, Justice, and Peace. Newton, KS: Faith and Life Press, 1987.
Written in the context of Anabaptist-Mennonite biblical studies, Yoder’s book provides an important examination of Jewish and Christian scriptures and their understandings of the relationship of justice, salvation and peace. For anyone seeking to understand the trajectory of Jewish and Christian scriptures on the topic of shalom – an active concept of peace that includes the well-being of the individual and the community – this book provides essential information in a very readable format.
While violence, most particularly war, has been seen as a political science issue or a religious/theological one, increasingly the world’s medical organizations are considering all forms of violence to be a public health problem. Consequently, the methodologies used by public health organizations are beginning to be applied to questions of violence. For example, the three levels of prevention – primary (prevention before onset), secondary (early detection and remediation), and tertiary (prevention of progression and additional complications) – are useful in dealing with the problem of violence. Each level has a role to play in the eradication of violence from human life and in healing the wounds of individual and collective violence, of legitimated and non-legitimated violence.
This section includes statements about violence made by national and international health organizations and agencies of the United Nations that address health and well being. Many of the statements include definitions of violence and provide demographic data about certain forms of violence. Many of the sites list additional resources such as research reports, books and chapters, and links to other sites with even more information.
American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Practice Committee. “American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Statement on Violence.” American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. AANP, 2000.
The preamble of the statement says, “Violence is no respecter of gender, race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background. Violence occurs across the lifespan. It permeates our lives, churches, communities, schools and workplaces.” It goes on to summarize the incidence of violence in its many different forms: homicide, domestic violence, child victimization and abuse, hate crimes, violence against women, gun-related deaths, elder abuse, and so on. For each demographic statistic about violence, a corresponding footnote identifies the source of information.
American Academy of Pediatrics. “Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children.”American Academy of Pediatrics. AAP, 2000.
In this brief statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association, presents the public health community’s perception, based on more than 100 research studies, that media violence (television, computer games, and arcade games) plays a causal relationship to violence and aggression in some children. Episodes of violence that either glamorize or trivialize the consequences of media violence have been shown to cause emotional desensitization and blunting as well as violent or aggressive attitudes and behaviors in some children.
American Nurses Association Board of Directors. Position Statement: Violence Against Women. Washington, D.C.: American Nurses Association, 2000.
In 1991 and again in 2000, the American Nurses Association released its position statement on violence against women. The statement calls for assessment, intervention and prevention at multiple levels of health care. It calls for the education of all nurses on this topic. The stated goal of intervention and prevention is to reduce the immediate and long term physical and psychological injuries that are caused by events of violence against women. In addition, the statement recognizes the need to educate women about violence as well as about resources available to them in their local communities. Violent behaviors are defined as “pattern of coercive behaviors that may include repeated battering and injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, deprivation and intimidation.” The statement provides demographic data and additional resources for the health care community.
American Psychiatric Association. “Psychiatric Effects of Media Violence.” Healthy Minds. APA, n.d.
The general introductory remarks of this document begin with these words: “Over the last three decades, the one overriding finding in research on the mass media is that exposure to media portrayals of violence increases aggressive behavior in children. … In addition to increased aggression, countless studies have shown that exposure to violence causes desensitization and create a climate of fear.” In its general statement on television and media violence, the American Psychiatric Association focuses on pervasiveness of the problem, distortions of reality, protection of youth, and a call to action. The document is supported by a bibliography of research findings. In addition, it points to other medical statements, such as one issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Pinheiro, Paulo Sérgio. World Report on Violence Against Children. Geneva: United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children, 2006. Violence Against Children.
United Nations, 2006. The United Nations General Assembly established the years 2001-2011 as the Decade of the Child. They requested that the UN Secretary-General conduct a global study on the topic of violence against children. The intent of this study is to “paint a detailed picture of the nature, extent, and causes of violence against children.” The following areas are included in the study: home and family; school and educational systems; care and justice movements; work settings; and the community. The second goal of the study is to formulate recommendations for action inside the global community in order to prevent these forms of violence, and also to respond, after-the-fact, to its presence in children’s lives. Extreme acts of violence and smaller, daily acts of abuse and violence are included, along with physical violence, psychological violence, abuse, neglect and abandonment, discrimination, and maltreatment. The report recognizes that some forms of violence against children are allowed either by law or by local culture and customs. Some are rooted in economic and social problems of the greater culture. The report acknowledges that violence against children cuts across cultures, class lines, ethnicity, education, and income levels.
Summers, Randal W., and Allan M. Hoffman, eds. Elder Abuse: A Public Health Perspective. Atlanta: American Public Health Association, 2006.
Documenting the growing phenomenon of elder abuse in the United States, the American Public Heath Association has published a new book that addresses the public health concerns of physical and emotional abuse, financial abuse and neglect.
United States. Cong. Senate. Committee on Labor and Human Resources. Subcommittee on Child and Human Development. Domestic Violence Prevention and Services Act, 1980. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980.
This publication contains summaries of testimony before the US Senate Subcommittee on Child and Human Development and summaries of quantities and types of domestic violence. It is a good resource for understanding terminology as it is used inside the legislative branch of the United States government and legal system. It includes the United States Secretary General Statement on Violence, 1980.
United States. Cong. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on Youth Violence. Guns in School: A Federal Role? Hearing before the Subcommittee on Youth Violence. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997.
This book summarizes testimony presented to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Youth Violence in 1997. A large portion of the report is oriented around the issue of the presence of guns in American schools.
“Violence Prevention.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDCP, n.d.
The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention has begun to address American violence as a public health problem. Assuming the importance of primary prevention (stopping violence before it begins), the Center has established a series of priorities, and each priority is described in some detail, including a definition of the problem as well as demographic data about incidence. These priorities include: child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, suicide, youth violence, international violence.
By taking a public health approach to violence, the Center brings its own expertise to the task of violence prevention at all three levels: primary intervention, secondary intervention, and tertiary intervention. They apply public health methodology, which includes defining the problem; identifying risk factors; developing and testing prevention strategies, and the widespread adoption of proven methodologies for prevention and management.
World Health Organization. Report on Violence and Health. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2003.
In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its two volume report on violence in a global context. Basic to understanding this book is a public health perspective: violence is a preventable human experience; it is not an inevitable consequence of human nature. As the first comprehensive review of violence as a global but preventable human experience, this report establishes working definitions, reviews demographic issues in multiple forms of violence, describes previous efforts to intervene, and makes recommendations for future efforts to prevent violence.
One of strengths of these two volumes is that the WHO has established a working typology of various forms of violence. It has provided the global community with a common set of definitions as it attempts to establish common terminology for future research and measureable prevention efforts. Included is information about war and other forms of collective violence, youth violence, intimate partner violence, violence against the elderly, sexual violence, and self-directed violence (e.g., suicide).
If individuals or groups can buy only one book about the twenty-first-century global epidemic of violence (and its repercussions in the lives of its individual and communal victims), this should be that book.
Only late in the twentieth-century did the anti-violence movement begin to consider the widespread presence of personal violence in women’s lives and in children’s lives as an important issue. As mentioned above, Barbara Deming was one of the first feminist peace activists to make the connection between various forms of violence as peace issues. The anti-rape movement and the anti-domestic violence movement both began in the 1970s as victims of violence began to speak out about their own experiences. The women’s health movement was an integral part of this early education and activism period in the second wave of American feminism.
In the section which follows, I have chosen resources which represent the global concern of women about the sexual and physical violence which affects them and their children in their most intimate relationships with men.
Agosin, Marjorie, ed. Women, Gender, and Human Rights: A Global Perspective. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001.
Marjorie Agosin, award-winning poet, activist, and professor raised in Chile, defines human rights and women’s rights with much the same terminology: “Human rights, and particularly women’s rights, must be defined as being seen and treated equal in the political and ideological as well as domestic and private arenas.” (1). In Agosin’s book, women around the world examine gender issues as human rights issues. The book is divided into four sections: (1) theoretical visions; (2) women and health; (3) women, activism and social change; (4) women and the culture of displacement.
One of the strengths of this book is its multiple authorship–individual authors make their own contribution to the whole in strong voices that reflect their own life context and cultural situation. Authors are internationally known experts from the disciplines of medicine, public affairs, governmental policy and law, psychology, ethics, literature, and history. The multiple voices combine to argue that the elimination of gender-based violence, discrimination, and social invisibility is an essential core aspect of the human struggle for social justice in the twenty-first century.
Berry, Jason and Gerald Renner. Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II. New York: Free Press, 2004.
Clinical and legal issues of pedophilia inside the priestly caste of the English-speaking Roman Catholic Church have been considered by some religious news commentators to be the most serious issue of religious corruption since the indulgences issue that helped to trigger the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.
In Vows of Silence, two journalists, both Roman Catholic, examine the historical, theological, and canon law issues raised by the failure of the American Catholic Church hierarchy and by the failure of the Vatican papacy, curia, church tribunals, and congregations to deal with this crisis of faith and practice in Catholic communities. In particular, these authors examine the hierarchical and bureaucratic cover-up in which pedophiles were protected and allowed to continue their victimization of more and more children.
The issues raised about authoritarian religious structures and the demand for obedient silence and cover-ups within church institutions in the face of visible injustice provides a religious example to supplement the work of Kelman and Hamilton in Crimes of Obedience (regarding military and business-industrial arenas).
Brock, Rita Nakashima, and Susan Brooks Thistlewaite. Casting Stones: Prostitution and Liberation in Asia and the United States. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998.
American feminist theologians Rita Nakashima Brock and Susan Brooks Thistlewaite examine the global sex industry in order to re-think the underlying cosmological issues which provide permission for this form of men’s violence against women and children.
The authors help their readers to understand the sex industry and, in doing so, they locate women sex workers within the context of female suffering. They make the connection of sex work to militarism in war cultures. They urge their readers to collectively organize in order to work against this form of violence in the lives of impoverished women and children around the globe.
Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. Warming the Stone Child: Myths and Stories About the Pain of Abandonment and the Unmothered Child. Audiocassette or CD. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2005.
Estes is a Jungian analyst who utilizes myths, fairy tales, fables, legends, and Jungian archetypal concepts to describe the current situation of adults who were physically or emotionally abandoned, neglected, or un-mothered in childhood. She not only describes the pathology which can result from childhood and pre-adolescent physical or emotional abandonment, she also describes the strengths and gifts that such a difficult childhood brings to the adult survivor.
One of the strengths of the tape is that Pinkola Estes provides guidance for individuals to re-mother themselves by taking care of the inner child. She describes the search for a healthy self. She suggests that adults who carry this kind of emotional history learn how to “mother themselves” by teaching the self what is needed for a healthy emotional and relational life. She identifies useful coping mechanisms for adults to use as they re-teach their inner child the adult skills for successful living.
This work is useful for adults who are in search of ways to create healing for their inner wounds. It is also useful for clinicians who seek to understand and help others. A beginning concept of Jungian archetypes is helpful but not essential.
Evans, Patricia. The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond. Holbrook, MA: Adams Media Corporation, 1996.
Recognizing the response of confusion in victims of relationship abuse, Evans has written a self-help book that will also be of use to clinicians or to others who work with victims of relationship abuse. The book’s theoretical framework centers on understanding power relationships. The first kind of power is personal power – the ability to make decisions and to implement behaviors. An individual with personal power moves toward mutuality and reciprocity in relationships. The second kind of power is that of power-over another individual.
Relationships in which power-over is a motif are relationships filled with control and efforts by one person to dominate the second. Along with coercion and domination, there is hostility in the dominant person for the subordinate one. Consequently, Evans notes, “Verbal abuse is hostile aggression.” This book provides a framework for understanding low self-esteem and relationship confusion. The self-help suggestions for victims of verbal abuse are very specific and functionally quite useful as the victims begin to re-define the relationship more realistically and truthfully.
Fortune, Marie. Domestic Violence and Its Aftermath. New Perspectives on Crime and Justice. 9. Elkhart, IN: Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Office of Criminal Justice, 1989.
Marie Fortune is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ and the founder of the Center for the Prevention of Domestic Violence in Seattle. Here she writes for an Anabaptist/Mennonite audience. Fortune’s basic philosophy is identified. “The law is too important to be left to lawyers and faith too important to be left to the Clergy” (1). Quoting Celie in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, she says, “We don’t never get used to the injustice of woman abuse because we know it is wrong and we know it is a sin” (2). Fortune discusses justice, healing, restoration, and reconciliation. This small monograph was one of the first introductions of violence against women as a theological and pastoral issue for Anabaptist/Mennonites in Canada and the United States.
Goldman, Emma. The Traffic in Women and Other Essays on Feminism. Washington, NJ: Times Change Press, 1970.
Anarchist-Marxist Emma Goldman was seen as “the most dangerous woman in America” when the United States extradited her to Russia in 1919. In the lead essay in this monograph, Goldman discusses early twentieth-century world-wide sexual trafficking in women (that which was then called the “white slave trade.” She examines the role of male supremacy, the role of Christianity, and the role of emerging sexology experts in her historical analysis of prostitution as a woman’s rights issue.
This essay is perhaps the first American feminist analysis of sexual violence against women. It provides a radical analysis and may make readers uncomfortable with its underlying assumptions. In an era of international sex-tourism and internet-facilitated pornography and pedophilia, all of which involve women and small children of both genders, Goldman’s monograph remains pertinent and important.
Heggen, Carolyn Hoderread, and Marie Fortune. Domestic Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2006.
Heggen is a clinician-therapist who has lectured, consulted, and written within an Anabaptist/Mennonite content. In this book she breaks the silence about the prevalence of sexual and domestic abuse inside Christian families and Christian institutions. This book deals with issues of perpetrators, victims. and the families of both. Heggen has begun to think about how Christian theology and worship participate in the creation of a culture of violence inside the Christian community. This is a valuable book for students, congregations, and religious institutions.
Voelkel-Haggen, Rebecca, and Marie Fortune. Sexual Abuse Prevention: A Course of Study for Teenagers. Cleveland, OH: United Church Press, 1996.
In this important book for adolescents, the authors help to break the cultural taboo of silence which surrounds adolescent date rape. By providing Christian churches with a teaching resource, they help congregations and schools provide a safe place for adolescents to begin to talk about sexual abuse in their lives as children and adolescents. Read as a companion volume to Berry’s Vows of Silence, some of the theological issues can be recognized as pan-denominational. Within the peace church tradition, sexual violence and domestic violence against women and their children emerges as a vital peace theology issue.
Warshaw, Robin. I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape. New York: Harper and Row, 1988.
Psychologist Mary Koss headed the Ms. Magazine research project on acquaintance rape. Warshaw’s book presents the findings and recommendations of that study for a popular audience. In particular, the book is written so that high school and college students can find information. The research project and the book both utilized definitions of rape that already existed in legal definitions.
The book considers individual rape and gang rape. It discusses perpetrators as well as victims and survivors. In addition, the book contains suggestions for survivors of rape – a what-to-do-if section.
This important research project and the popularized book both helped colleges and high schools to understand the magnitude and shape of the date rape issue on their campuses in the lives of their male and female students.
Wilson, K. L. When Violence Begins at Home: A Comprehensive Guide for Understanding and Ending Domestic Abuse. Alameda, CA: Hunter House Publications, 1997.
This book is an excellent resource for individuals who confront domestic violence as part of their professional work: police officers, medical clinicians and therapists, social agency workers, ministers, educators, and members of the legal system. It is also a good self-help resource that provides information about how to get help in escaping situations of domestic violence. Finally, it is a good basic text book for undergraduate and graduate students that provides factual information in a readily understood manner.
Yoder, Elizabeth G. Peace Theology and Violence Against Women. Occasional Papers. 16. Elkhart, IN: Institute of Mennonite Studies, 1992.
This edited collection includes theological papers and clinical papers presented at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries during an interdisciplinary symposium on the topic of gender-based violence.
In her preface to the collection, Yoder notes three purposes for the consultation and subsequent publication of the consultation’s presentations:
o To place theologians and clinical, therapeutic, or pastoral practitioners in dialogue
o To stimulate conversation in the Mennonite Church about these issues
o To strengthen the community of peace church Christians working in the area of violence against women and in the area of peace church theology
This collection represents the first academic and theological consultation inside the Mennonite Church on the topic, “Is sexual violence against women and children a peace church issue?” This collection answers that question in the affirmative. In addition, the consultation raises profound questions about historical Christian theology and its contributions to creating a culture of violence against women and children.
Every student who wishes to research the psychiatric diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) needs to reference the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association. I have listed the book form below as well as an on-line form which I found. Non-clinicians need to heed the advice of the American Psychiatric Association that the DSM-IV is designed for clinicians and may be inappropriately utilized by non-clinicians if they seek to diagnose themselves or others.
Nevertheless, it is essential for peace-workers (and their managers or supervisors) in situations of high trauma to recognize the symptoms of PTSD. It is especially necessary to realize that witnesses to trauma (in addition to the primary victims of trauma) may suffer from PTSD. Thus, relief and service workers in war zones may find themselves suffering the symptoms of PTSD. This is true, as well, for individuals who help clean up after massive natural disasters. Finally, it is equally possible for clinicians and therapists to experience some or many of the symptoms if their day-to-day work involves debriefing clients about human-created atrocities such as genocidal environments.
In addition, the twentieth-century saw two remarkable personal and national efforts at truth-telling and reconciliation. One was in Guatemala at the end of its violent civil war and the accompanying assassinations, disappearances, and torture cells; the second was in South Africa at the ending of legitimated and legalized apartheid and oppression.
American Psychiatric Association. “309.81 Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994. 424-429. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Today. Mental Health Matters.
The diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has been developed for the use of American clinicians to use in dealing with individuals who demonstrate a stress response to many forms of violence—war, sexual violence, the aftermath of community disasters such as school yard shootings, and nature’s events such as tornadoes, etc. Knowledge of PTSD is essential for individuals who work in situations of chaos, violence, and the aftermath of natural disasters.
Campaign for Peace and Life in Guatemala. Refusing to Forget: Guatemala, Never Again. Washington, DC: The Campaign for Peace and Life in Guatemala, 1995.
In December, 1995, Guatemala exited thirty –six years of violent conflict with the signing of a peace accord. The Recovery of Historical Memory project was led by the Catholic Church of Guatemala and was based on the premise that lasting peace can only be built on recovering and remembering the historical truth. People in the church began to gather witnesses together. For more than four years, parish workers gathered testimony about massacres, disappearances, rape, torture and other forms of atrocities. In 1998, the church published its historic four volume work, Guatemala: Never Again. Two days after its release, Bishop Juan Gerardi (the driving force behind the REMHI project and report), was brutally assassinated.
This study guide for North Americans gives testimony to the series of destructive roles the United States played in Guatemala’s history. President Clinton acknowledged this during his 1998 visit to Guatemala.
Herman, Judith. Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence – From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
Herman’s work as a physician-psychiatrist provides the professional context for this book. In part one she discusses trauma disorders and the forgotten medical and military history of these diagnoses. She includes, as well, the history of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual editors to create the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosis and includes it for purposes of diagnosis and medical or therapeutic care. She discusses victim’s encounters with war, child abuse, rape, terrorism, and other forms of abusive and violent behaviors as the eliciting psycho-biological mechanisms for the development of PTSD. In part two, Herman deals with the therapeutic relationship at length. One of the important contributions she makes to the professional literature on PTSD is her discussion of transference and counter-transference. In addition, Herman identifies and discusses secondary Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in some detail. This is the impact of victimization on witnesses and helpers.
This book is well-written and should be in the collection of clinicians, lay helpers of victims, educators, counselors, ministers and priests, as well as peace workers and humanitarian relief and service workers who will work in environments of repetitive violence.
Levine, Peter A. Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2007. Levine has doctoral degrees in psychology and also in medical and biological physics. For more than thirty years he has studied human stress. As he considered the question of why animals are rarely exhibit stress disorders even though they routinely face situations of prey-predator violence, he began to believe that all animals – including the human animal – have an instinctual ability to heal. This led him to study animals in their natural habitat. The psychological wounds of trauma can heal – but the wisdom of the physical body must be heeded. In this book, Levine makes a major contribution to the emerging body/mind interaction in the treatment of trauma in human life. Essential reading for anyone who wishes to expand his or her understanding of the psycho-biological aspects of healing from PTSD. In addition, the book serves as the introduction to Levine’s on-going work to train clinicians in his principles and methodologies.
Muller, Wayne. Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood. New York: Fireside, 1992.
Muller begins with the experience of the abused child in this book about adult survivors’ healing from childhood’s violence and violation. The continuing ripples of abuse in the spirit of the adult survivor present the need to deal forthrightly with issues of healing. Beginning with simple awareness, Muller tackles the difficult issues that surround healing work for adults: pain and forgiveness; fear and faith; performance and belonging; scarcity and abundance; judgment and mercy; busyness and stillness; disappointment and attachment; habit and mindfulness; isolation and intimacy; obligation and loving kindness.
As a theologian-clinician, Muller’s ground-breaking work considers the spiritual and bodily suffering that accompanies child victims of violence throughout their lifetimes. He plots a path for a rich adult life in which healing continues. He calls on the spiritual healing resources of multiple faith traditions.
Naperstek, Bellaruth. Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal. New York: Random House, 2004.
Naperstek, a clinical social worker, is one of the United States’ experts on guided imagery as it can be utilized in the healing processes during illnesses of many kinds. In this book, begun after the September 11 airplane attacks on the World Trade Center, Naperstek investigates the trauma response and methodologies for working with survivors. She presents a good review of imagery-based therapies and describes their use with survivors in various stages of victimization and recovery. Essential reading for clinicians who wish to integrate guided imagery into their clinical practices. In addition, the book can be used by survivors of trauma to find their way among the maze of treatment options available to them.
Roof, Nancy B. The Impact of War on Humanitarian Service Providers: A Workbook on Secondary Traumatic Stress and Burnout – Symptoms, Management, Prevention. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Medical School Center for Psychology and Social Change, 1994.
In 1993, the Harvard team conducted a survey of urgent needs of 25 humanitarian organizations in Croatia. The evaluation of this assessment survey demonstrated that the most urgent need was to provide support to humanitarian service providers who were exhausted by constant exposure to trauma. This workbook is a direct outcome of that consultation and survey.
The book provides a good introduction to primary and secondary stress syndromes. It focuses upon transference and counter-transference and burnout. It provides self-administered diagnostic worksheets and concrete suggestions about developing a realistic plan and program of self-care. Only 19 pages long, this small booklet belongs in the luggage of every relief and service worker (and his or her family members) who is en route to a location where exposure to violence and the trauma of violence will be an every-day phenomenon of the work experience.
“Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report.” South African Government Information. South Africa Government, 2003.
This website carries the complete report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. After the ending of legal Apartheid in South Africa, Episcopalian Archbishop and Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu chaired this commission which emphasized justice, truth, amnesty, and forgiveness rather than revenge; restorative rather than retributive justice.
Tutu, Desmond. No Future Without Forgiveness. New York: Doubleday, 1999.
As the Chairperson of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Bishop Tutu guided the country’s process of moving beyond violence and retribution. In this autobiographical book, we find Tutu’s philosophy and memory emerging as guiding principles for the extended hearings in which victims and victimizers confronted each other. Tutu reflects on his life as the commission sought to come to terms with massacres, tortures, rapes, and other atrocities against human rights in apartheid South Africa. As one reads, the reader begins to witness the emergence of an anatomy of forgiveness and reconciliation without vengeance and retribution.
Last Updated: June 2009