Beloved enemies: our need for opponents

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Prometheus Books, 1994 - Psychology - 309 pages
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Do the fractious groups of Arabs and Israelis actually need each other? Can the Pentagon find new enemies to replace the USSR? Are married couples held together by a shared sense of enmity toward outside parties and even each other? Who is more likely to cultivate enemies - men or women? Is the "devil" a created enemy? Is the need for enemies psychological, sociological, or biological? These and other fascinating questions are explored by David P. Barash as he skilfully combines findings from biology, psychology, sociology, politics, history, and even literature to shed new and unexpected light on the human condition. Barash also offers startling and controversial observations about who we are as human beings and why we seem to thrive on adversarial relationships. He argues that we create and perpetuate our "enemy system" by "passing the pain along" -- from child abuse to ethnic antagonism. We may well harbour a vestigial "Neanderthal mentality", which induces us to behave in ways that were adaptive in our evolutionary past but which have broad and even global implications today. "Beloved Enemies" concludes with a hopeful message: We can overcome, not simply our enemies, but our need to have enemies, and our penchant for creating them. To those who seek a better understanding of the nature of conflict and to those who remain confident that we can find answers to seemingly endless and complex antagonisms, this book offers much food for thought.

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The End of Enemies?

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About the author (1994)

David P. Barash" received his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin in 1970 and has been with the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington since 1973. His studies span animal behavior and social psychology, with concentrations in sociobiology, psychological aspects of the arms race and nuclear war, peace studies, and animal behavior and evolution. A prolific author, he has written 180 technical articles and 19 books ranging from monographs ("Marmots: Social Behavior & Ecology") to college textbooks ("Sociobiology & Behavior") to popular trade titles ("The Great Outdoors" and "The Whisperings Within"). His 1991 Wadsworth text, "Introduction to Peace Studies", upon which the current book is derived, helped to shape and define Peace Studies as a formal field of inquiry.

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