edito My Way n°25 : A Society of Norms and its Criminals


According to Jacques-Alain Miller’s aphorism, “nothing is more human than crime”.i It is not by chance that Freud situated two mythical crimes – Oedipus and Totem and Taboo – as fundamental to subjectivity. Nonetheless, psychoanalysis does not shirk from “the dialectical relation which links Crime and the Law”, insofar as this relation is at the same time normative (categorical imperative) and contingent (positive law)”ii.

Social groupings are therefore involved. Béatriz Gonzalez-Renou and Romuald Hamon sketch out for us the broad lines of a society where those outside the norm and the outlaw are tracked down by means of an imposed surveillance, of transparency, and in the end by a generalized suspicion which makes each member of society a presumed suspect or a potential victim. Moreover, this logic of surveillance is reinforced by the confrontation of this society with Daesh’s programme of death (Yohan Trichet).

A Lacanian criminology can be deduced: a nuanced, continuous clinic which does not posit that the criminal falls within a specific pathology, and which does not engage in a reductive recourse to biology or to a behaviorist allegation of personality types (the Lombrosian rut of the born-criminal [criminel-né], which Romain-Pierre Renou references in his text). Rather it is a clinic which takes into account the threshold effects [les effets de seuil] for a subject (Jacqueline Dhéret), as well as his knowing-how-to-do with the signifiers of the Other (Xavier Gromichon), without ignoring the opacity which is found at the heart of the criminal act, along with that found in the act of judging (Angélica Toro-Cardona). It is the condition for receiving, when he does come to us, “this touching victim, the innocent escapee who has thrown off the shackles which condemn modern man to the most formidable social hell, […] it is this being of nothingness for whom, in our daily task, we clear anew the path to his meaning in a discrete fraternity – a fraternity to which we never measure up”iii.

Whether this is as a caseworker in prisons, or in the CPTC (Centre Psychanalytique de Consultations et de Traitment), as point-man with regard to contemporary modes of jouissance and the discords of discourse, the Lacanian psychoanalyst, in order to convey the relevance of a non-standard clinical practice, has to find a way to address the social Other.

Translated by Raphael Montague 

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