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Crime and Punishment

Psychoanalysis Ireland


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 » Crime and Punishment

Clinical Seminar
Rob Weatherill

Crime and Punishment:
Raskolnikov’s Dream. Complacent psys all round?
(Dr Paul O Mahony will respond to the presentation)
3rd February 2007
10.00am to 12.30pm
Irish Writer’s Centre
Parnell Square Nth
Dublin 1
Abstract of Rob’s presentation.   (read full article)
Fears of social breakdown used to be dismissed as “hysteria” or “moral panic”, but as early as 1927, Freud regarded the superego as ‘the most precious cultural asset’. Soon after Lacan was concerned about the paternal function. By mid-century psys were seeing the rise of modern “borderline” maladies, and Klein analysed the “archaic” superego. By the eighties, Lasch was writing about a narcissistic culture. More recently, Zizek pointed-up the emergence of the obscene criminal father who is the inverse of the Law. Only two years ago Jacques-Alain Miller was commenting on the pathology of democracy. This paper will expand on these psychoanalytic myths and explore how psys are as much part of the problem as part of the solution. By implicitly promoting an emotivist, subjectivist culture largely free from ethical constraints, we may be further contributing to weakening of the social. No longer radical, “therapy culture” is a structural element of late capitalism smoothing the path to ever greater consumption of state and private resources.
Footnote 1. “Psys” - a term coined in France to cover psychotherapists and psychoanalysts.
'Never had people considered themselves as wise and as strong in their pursuit of truth as these plague-ridden people. Never had they thought their decisions, their scientific conclusions, and their moral convictions so unshakable or so incontestably right…Each of them believed that the truth only resided in him…They did not know whom to put on trial or how to pass judgment; they could not agree what was good or what was evil.
They did not know whom to accuse or whom to acquit. In cities the tocsin was sounded all day long: they called everyone together, but no one knew who had summoned them, and all were in a state of great alarm…’ (Raskolnikov’s dream, in Crime and Punishment. F. Dostoyevsky. Penguin Classics.)
'On the day when crime puts on the apparel of innocence, through a curious reversal peculiar to our age, it is innocence that is called on to justify itself’. (Albert Camus, The Rebel).
Rob Weatherill has been a practicing psychoanalyst and superviser in Dublin for over forty years. He teaches widely at graduate and postgraduate levels and has authored numerous articles for journals at home and abroad. He is also the author of Cultural Collapse (1994), The Sovereignty of Death (1998) and Our Last Great Illusion (2004).

Paul O’Mahony is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology in Trinity College, Dublin. He was formerly a research psychologist in the Department of Justice and a member of the National Crime Forum and was a founder member of the Irish Penal Reform Trust. He is the author of Crime and Punishment in Ireland (1993), Criminal Chaos: Seven Crises in Irish Criminal Justice (1996), Mountjoy Prisoners: A Sociological and Criminological Profile (1997), and Prison Policy in Ireland: Criminal Justice versus Social Justice (2000) and he is the editor of Criminal Justice in Ireland (2002).

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