Elements of Self-Destruction

Author(s) : Brent Potter

Elements of Self-Destruction

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : January 2013
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 202
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 32499
  • ISBN 13 : 9781780490595
  • ISBN 10 : 1780490593
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Why are humans, who are motivated by self-preservation, also motivated to engage in behaviors that threaten and even extinguish their existence? The present work has given thought to this question and examined the phenomenon of self-destruction through the perspectives of empirical psychology, psychoanalysis, analytical psychology, as well as existential-phenomenological psychology. The themes included in this book are: the emerging understanding of self-destructiveness in culture, religion, philosophy, and psychology; Bion’s investigation into the self-destructive capacity of the mind; Heidegger’s ontology of Being and the Enframing of technology; and identifying and delineating the ‘who’ who most experiences the impact of human-to-human destructiveness in our contemporary culture.

Reviews and Endorsements

Elements of Self-Destruction is a wide-ranging, reader-friendly study of the enigma of self-destructiveness. The study is unique in the literature in its hermeneutic-phenomenological approach to this subject matter, seeking understanding from within the experiential worlds of those engaged in self-destruction. Drawing on the thinking of Bion and Heidegger, Potter makes a fascinating proposal concerning the intimate relationship between the essence of technology—which reduces beings, including human beings, to meaningless resources to be exploited—and the essence of self-destructiveness, illustrating his thesis with evocative discussions of child trafficking, pornography, and the Holocaust. Readers of this book will be richly rewarded.’
- Robert D. Stolorow, PhD, PhD, author of World, Affectivity, Trauma: Heidegger and Post-Cartesian Psychoanalysis

‘Brent Potter touches a central problem of our time – human destructiveness. Destructiveness has always been part of our nature but presses us all the more with our added technological capacities and global scale of reach. It is the elephant in the room we try to find ways around, lacking adequate tools or capacity to address directly or well. Books like this are imperative as a way to keep destructiveness in focus and stimulate growth towards working with forces that injure and maim. Potter’s research peels layers off evasiveness while adding to the store of wisdom needed to address who we are and how we work.’
- Michael Eigen, author of Contact With the Depths and Psychic Deadness

‘Brent Potter guides us on an erudite, elegant and deeply instructive hermeneutic investigation into the most disturbing and contradictory of all human impulses - one, as he shows, potentially inherent in all of us - the urge to self-annihilation.’
- Gabor Maté M.D., author of In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction

About the Author(s)

Brent Potter, PhD, is a psychotherapist, child mental health specialist, and ethnic minority mental health specialist (WA). Potter earned his master’s degree in existential-phenomenological psychology from Duquesne University. He holds a doctorate in clinical psychology with an emphasis in depth psychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has more than twenty years of experience providing clinical services in a range of settings including inpatient, hospital, outpatient, and private practice. He has published numerous articles, Elements of Self-Destruction, and has three forthcoming books.

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