John Adlam

Violent States and Creative States (2 Volume Set) Edited by John Adlam (m. 1983), Tilman Kluttig and Bandy X. Lee. Prologue by Estela Welldon. Epilogue by James Gilligan

09 August 2018

Violent States and Creative States (2 Volume Set), From the Global to the Individual Edited by John Adlam (m. 1983), Tilman Kluttig and Bandy X. Lee. Prologue by Estela Welldon. Epilogue by James Gilligan. In considering the different states in which individual acts of human violence take place, this thorough analysis reveals the opposing state of violence to be creativity. With contributions across a range of disciplines, this is the first integrated approach to move beyond merely mitigating violence to fostering creativity as a means of prevention.


In this superbly informative and  inspired collection, various forms and manifestations of violence and of violent states of mind and of society are analyzed and countered by creative alternatives. Volume 1 explores the concept of structural violence, examining state violence in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and dynamics of terror, protective function and creativity in the public sphere, locally and internationally. Volume 2 focuses on the origins and aftermath of individual violent states of mind and violence directed towards self or others and describes how psychotherapeutic, psychosocial and activist interventions can provide and promote creative alternatives. These volumes are a treasure trove for everybody in all the many fields of violence reduction. (Friedemann Pfäfflin, MD, Emeritus Professor of Forensic Psychotherapy, Ulm University)

This is a magnificent book. In the introduction there is a half apology that it is not aiming to be encyclopaedic, but it is amongst the most encyclopaedic accounts of violence, its many threads, and especially its structural roots, that I have encountered. Diverse, experienced, expert and coherent chapters moving from the political/structural to the intrapsychic, and back and forth between violence, and its proposed antidote, creativity. I thoroughly recommend this book, not just to those whose interest is therapeutic, but to those who really ought to be reading it because their hands are on levers of power. It is a towering achievement to create a thread of real coherence through such a manifestly complex and fraught field’. (Dr Dickon Bevington, Medical Director, Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families)

The extremes of contemporary human conflict, warfare and terrorism may eschew comprehension and beget reciprocal destruction in a dangerous escalation of global violence. This book offers a breathtaking understanding of human violence from its psychological and familial roots to its eruption in today's societal, ecological and political spheres. In exploring the progression of individual violent states of mind to state-sponsored violence, the authors bring an international perspective and provide creative responses to one of the most worrying epidemics of our times. (Jessica Yakeley, Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst and Director, Portman Clinic, London UK.)

Violence is vital for human survival - protective as well as destructive. But violence begets violence, the cycle only being defeated by love's power, as Martin Luther King Jr. reminded. The editors have selected contributors who have axes to grind, in protecting matters close to their hearts. Contributions model creative, non-violent, responses to violent attacks, via channelling their authors' violent impulses into rational arguments and urgings. Do not skim-read this book. Dip in; pick out; read; muse; rest; and repeat. (Dr Kingsley Norton, Jungian Analyst and Medical Psychotherapist)


These well edited, wide-ranging volumes of contributions from an international network of colleagues in the developing field of psycho-social forensic studies are not only brilliant in their depth of insight and scholarship, but also extremely useful in clinical work. They also enhance our awareness of the rights and obligations of citizenship and participation in a moral community in which perpetrators, victims and bystanders enact a myriad of roles in plays within plays. (Earl Hopper, Ph.D., psychoanalyst, group analyst, and organisational consultant. Former President of the International Association for Group Psychotherapy. Editor of the New International Library of Group Analysis.)

These two multi-authored collections are to be heartily welcomed and recommended. Especially gratifying to me is the appearance of so many 'new' (to me) authors with sparkling ideas, in addition to the 'older' familiars. The excitement of our subject is reiterated to me; requiring, borrowing and applying from so many disciplines and different bodies of knowledge. Volume 1 analyses violent states of mind and behaviour from multidisciplinary clinical perspectives and places them within their social and political contexts. Volume 2, rather originally, emphasises 'creative states' as positively promoting individual and societal wellbeing, and not just in 'neutralising' or mitigating violent states. I am reminded of Melanie Klein's conjunction of 'Envy and Gratitude' as alternative states of mind of fundamental significance for the individual, and (necessarily) their behaviour; and the relative down-playing of gratitude in Kleinian praxis. By contrast, the editors and authors of these two volumes are, refreshingly, ever alert to the place of the positive, to the 'psychosocial creative' in helping the individual and in framing policies and politics. I congratulate all involved in these seminal writings. (Professor Christopher Cordess, Member, British Psychoanalytical Society. Emeritus Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, University of Sheffield.)