We live in a time when new forms of violence are emerging. The September 11th attack on the United States revealed an unrecognized willingness of terrorists to sacrifice their own lives in order to hurt their "enemies." In the last decade, national conflicts around the globe have resulted in the most brutal forms of torture against civilian populations. In our daily lives, we increasingly hear of brutal crimes committed by young children and teenagers and between parents and children. The most shocking observation is that many people do not even attempt to give an excuse for why they commit crime, other than for the pure joy of it.
In the mid-twentieth century, French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan developed a startlingly novel school of psychoanalysis by integrating Freudian theory within the context of the Continental speculative philosophical tradition. Lacan suggests that there is a particular jouissance experienced in crime. Participants at this unique conference will ask how the logic of jouissance can explain violence against oneself and others. Leading scholars from many disciplines, including law, philosophy, literary and critical theory, and anthropology, as well as practicing psychoanalytic clinicians will consider the interrelationship between jouissance, crime, and law.
Psychoanalysis claims that certain primal prohibitions form the basis of the moral law that governs not only social norms but also a subject's inner self. What is the link between these external and internal norms? Paradoxically, the law that society imposes onto the subject does not necessarily limit the subject's behavior-sometimes the subject commits the crime precisely to escape the pressure and feelings of guilt that arise from his or her inner prohibitions. Crime and guilt are revealed as the founding conditions of law. Can psychoanalysis illuminate the subject's relation to legal punishment? And do lawyers need to know about psychoanalysis in order to better perform their jobs?
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