Why is it that victims of abuse so often become perpetrators, and
what can psychoanalysis offer to these survivor-perpetrators, whose
criminal conduct seems to transcend the possibilities of empathic
psychoanalytic inquiry. In The Reproduction of Evil, Sue Grand
engages these deeply troublesome issues in the belief that
psychoanalysts can and should reclaim the study of what lies beyond
ordinary human empathy. Her goal is to elucidate the link between
traumatic memory and the perpetration of evil. To this end, she
presents an interdisciplinary analysis, at once scholarly and
passionate, of the ways in which families and cultures transform
victims of malignant trauma into perpetrators of these very traumas
on others. Through intensive case studies, Grand draws the reader
into the world of the survivor-perpetrators who commit acts of
child abuse, of incest, of racial persecution, even of homicide and
genocide. By infusing psychoanalytic inquiry with cultural analysis
and by supplementing clinical vignettes with well-chosen literary
illustrations, Grand is able to convey the survivor-perpetrator's
immediacy of experience in a manner that readers may find
unsettling, even uncanny.
At the same time as Grand excavates the primitive internal
meanings that accrue to acts of violence, she explores the broader
cultural meanings of these acts. Delineating the forms of malignant
dissociative contagion that link together perpetrator, victim, and
passive bystander, she constructs a field theory of evil, according
to which families and cultures are subject to a collusive
dissociative process that potentiates evil at the same time as it
erases evil's history. From this perspective, both the enactmentof
evil and the collusive appearance and disappearance of knowledge
about evil have a common source: the catastrophic loneliness at the
core of trauma survival. The reproductive cycle of evil is rooted
in the trauma survivor's impossible desire to be known in this
By interweaving psychoanalytic, sociohistorical, and literary
perspectives, Grand fills a critical lacuna in the literature about
trauma and its intergenerational transmission. Her analysis of the
psychodynamic processes and cultural tensions that bind
perpetrators, victims, and bystanders provides trenchant insights
into the violence and fragmentation that beset our society.
Essential reading for a wide clinical audience, The Reproduction of
Evil will also be powerfully informative for academic and lay
readers interested in the intrapsychic, interpersonal, and cultural
factors that account for the perpetuation of evil from generation
|Country of origin:
||Relational Perspectives Book Series, 17
||229 x 152 x 13mm (L x W x T)
Social sciences >
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