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Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil and Creativity (Suny Series in the Philosophy of Psychology) 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0791430767
ISBN-10: 0791430766
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic explores the origin of anger and rage and how they can be canalized into constructive activity. This provocative book masterfully handles a complicated topic and ends with the credo that "the indomitable human will and spirit to survive, create...and bestow meaning is the only sensible response to...violence and evil." -- AHP Perspective, September/October 1997

In Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic clinical psychologist Stephen Diamond considers the ancient Greek concept of the daimonic as a unified life-force with potential for both good and evil, in an effort to revitalize our psychology of human evil, psychopathology, and creativity. Diamond argues for the use of existential depth psychology as the most promising approach to dealing with daimonic tendencies in individuals and society. ...bear(s) reading and rereading and, I feel certain, will continue to reward readers who wish to have their most deeply felt ideas challenged at nearly every turn. -- The Quest, September 1997 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

Though the causes of violence in our society are complex, the troublesome human emotions of anger and rage play a central role in the genesis of violent behavior and psychopathology in general. In this book, clinical psychologist Stephen Diamond determines where rage and anger originate and explores whether these powerful passions are -- as most people believe -- purely negative, pathological, and evil or can be meaningfully redeemed and rechanneled into constructive activity. Using clinical and biographical case studies, as well as striking visual images, he traces anger, rage, and violence through their most destructive expressions to their creative and transcendent functions in art, psychotherapy, and spirituality.

"An excellent book... I have always felt that Dr. Diamond's emphasis on the daimonic was extremely timely and important in our day. The myth of the daimonic covers vital, archetypal human experiences, as this work clearly illustrates. I find it very readable, and done like the true scholar." -- from the Foreword by Rollo May

"An impressive, prodigious work; so comprehensive, so rich, and very creative. This excellent book is unique in making sense of the 'senseless violence' that permeates American society today. When we understand the root causes of the human need for violence, we will be able to make an ally of the energy it liberates." -- June Singer, author of Boundaries of the Soul

"Diamond shows how existential depth psychology can help us understand the anger and violence so rampant in American society. He explains how we are both subject to and responsible for powerful psychic forces active within us, forces which, depending on how we respond to them, can press toward either creative or destructive expressions. Diamond's book is elegantly written, well researched, and clinically well informed. It is an important contribution." -- Michael Washburn, author of The Ego and the Dynamic Ground and Transpersonal Psychology in Psychoanalytic Perspective

"Written with great vigor, clarity, and conviction, this book is fast paced and a pleasure to read." -- George B. Hogenson, author of Jung's Struggle with Freud
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 434 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press; 1 edition (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791430766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791430767
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,271,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
You hear of it almost daily, the mayhem. A building is dynamited in the name of some high-sounding cause. A gang sprays a street corner with bullets. Children bring hunting rifles to school. A comic's wife kills him, then herself.
For a country drenched in violence I can't imagine a book more timely than "Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity" (SUNY Press, 1996). Having counseled violent men and teens court-referred for mandatory therapy, I can state my reaction to the book in two words: read it.
Building on the work of Rollo May, Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and other well-known theorists, Dr. Stephen A. Diamond has brought to the exploration of our violence epidemic his experiences as a psychotherapist and forensic psychologist. He also draws on art, literature, philosophy, and comparative religion to reveal the roots of rage.
Those roots are, to use the classical expression, daimonic, a term also favored by James Hillman. Anger is a natural, dynamic reaction to woundedness, injustice, violation, powerlessness. When repressed and denied, however, anger ferments into a neurotic, narcissistic rage, which itself gets repressed until it explodes. You cannot banish a vital facet of yourself without suffering consequences. The executive who jumps out a window, the postal worker who comes to work with a pistol, the celebrity who one day massacres a mate are not necessarily insane: we all cast shadows, and everyone who stuffs down anger for too long is at risk. (My work with violent men has repeatedly shown me that the passive, "it doesn't bother me" gentlemen in denial of how angry they really are routinely reviolate and return to jail.)
And what are psychotherapists doing about the rage epidemic?
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Format: Paperback
Steven B. Herrmann, PhD, MFT
Author of "William Everson: The Shaman's Call"

Steven Diamond's book is a key to understanding some effective methods and techniques which may clearly delineate how to deal constructively with daimonic anger and rage in psychotherapy and most importantly, how to transform them creatively in the consulting room. The "daimonic" is, Diamond notes, a symbolic concept, one which Rollo May amplified courageously, in the late sixties and early seventies in his books, lectures, and articles, culminating with his seminal paper "Psychotherapy and the Daimonic" (Myths, Dreams, and Religion, New York: Dutton, 1970). May made the paradoxical claim that it is the task of the psychotherapist "to conjure up the devils rather than put them to sleep" (Diamond, 181) The goal is not to repress the daimonic but to activate it, he says, to bring it to full awareness. "Great creativity," Diamond adds "is most often an amalgam of many elements, including mental disorder, disease and evil. Herman Melville, in his epic novel Moby-Dick, goes so far as to suggest that great women and men `are made so through a certain morbidness.... All mortal greatness is but disease'" (261). The problem of modern psychotherapy, in Diamond's view, is how to transform this basic human proclivity for destruction (including madness) into healthy passion which would include anger, eros, and creativity. In Diamond's view, techniques should "be employed for the express purpose of cultivating the daimonic rather than suppressing, diffusing, or eradicating it" (221, 222) and his use of "cultivating" implies maturation and differentiation.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a clinical psychologist, and in my list of favorite books, I write this:

Diamond writes: "The volatile emotions of anger and rage have been broadly `demonized,' vilified, maligned, and rejected as purely pathological, negative impulses with no real redeeming qualities. As a result, most `respectable' Americans habitually suppress, repress, or deny their anger-inadvertently rendering it doubly dangerous." He also clarifies, while developing the ideas of Rollo May, how we therapists collude with our clients and culture, thus depriving ourselves of the value and resources of this normal dimension of our being. He integrates psychoanalytic, Jungian, and existential theory under a new rubric of Existential Depth Psychology. As May states, our job is often "not to still the daimons but to wake them."

This is an important, engaging, and well-written work that I wish all my colleagues would read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a solid and intriguing book on existentialist psychology, alternatively known as humanistic psychology. The author takes over the notion of repression from Freud , and agrees with him insofar as repression is the cause of psychic distress ; where he disagrees profoundly is what is the nature of this repression.
The author argues that what is repressed is not simply sexuality, but a more complete and profoundly subterranean force, which he terms the 'daimonic'.
The daimonic (not to be confused with demonic) is the psychobiological source of human vitality and energy, and we repress it to our own detriment. A crucial component of the daimonic are the very human impulses of anger and rage. The author makes a convincing case that the majority of the violence we see in our day and age (he starts off his book with a long meditation on the wave of violence that consumed America in the last decades of the 20th century) is due to repressed violence and anger, that became poisoned and exploded in an unpredictable manner.
Anger and rage are fundamentally a part of human nature, and it is our existential attitude towards them that causes us to embrace/cultivate or repress them. This is the core message of the book, and it is a well-made point. This thesis is well-argued, using material from mythology, dreams, Jungian shadow-work, and existential philosophy.
The book suffers from the usual tendency of psychology books, however, in that it spends a bit too much time attacking other schools of thought. The CBT and purely-biological strands of psychiatric practice, in particular, come in for some well-aimed criticism. Additionally, there were a bit too many examples and counter-examples, and ill-placed case studies that detracted from the flow of the text.
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