Total Institution and Criminal Discourse

Forms of Constraint Placed on the Subject
By Dario Alparone, Kirsten Ellerby

The history of prisons goes back a long way, and only in the last few centuries has this institution become an important method of control, management, and reintegration for social deviance. A central point of the power of Total Institutions is the splitting of the subject and their reduction to the biological dimension. Psychoanalysis shows how subjectivity cannot be reduced to the neurobiological dimension; instead, the subject is produced in a symbolic, and social dimension. The Mafia subject is driven by a symbolic order characterised by an Absolute Law; a totalitarian power similar to that of the Total Institution. The aspects of a total power, characterised by an absolute Law, that holds sway over subjects, are present in both. In this respect, prisons often present a serious problem for the process of rehabilitation of delinquents. Psychoanalysis as a non-reductionist approach can offer the incarcerated subject a new opportunity to change their life.

  • psychoanalysis
  • prison
  • total institution
  • Mafia
  • body
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