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Law and the unconscious : a psychoanalytic perspective

Dailey, Anne C., author

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  • Creator Anne C. Dailey
  • Format Books
  • Publication New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, [2017] ©2017
  • Physical Details
    • viii, 283 pages ; 25 cm
  • ISBNs 9780300188837, 0300188838
  • OCLC on1011100570


  • How do we bring the law into line with people's psychological experience? How can psychoanalysis help us understand irrational actions and bad choices? Our legal system relies on the idea that people act reasonably and of their own free will, yet some still commit crimes with a high likelihood of being caught, sign obviously one-sided contracts, or violate their own moral codes--behavior many would call fundamentally irrational. Anne Dailey shows that a psychoanalytic perspective grounded in solid clinical work can bring the law into line with the reality of psychological experience. Approaching contemporary legal debates with fresh insights, this original and powerful critique sheds new light on issues of overriding social importance, including false confessions, sexual consent, threats of violence, and criminal responsibility. By challenging basic legal assumptions with a nuanced and humane perspective, Dailey shows how psychoanalysis can further our legal system's highest ideals of individual fairness and systemic justice.


  • Includes bibliographical references and index.


  • Why psychoanalysis matters to law -- The psychoanalytic tradition in American law -- Psychoanalysis and free will -- Guilty minds -- Intimate contracts -- Violent threats -- Sexual choice -- Children's rights