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Law and the UnconsciousA Psychoanalytic Perspective$
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Anne C. Dailey

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300188837

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300188837.001.0001

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(p.225) Nine Conclusion
Law and the Unconscious

Anne C. Dailey

Yale University Press

The conclusion to this book situates the study of law and psychoanalysis in relationship to two dominant and related trends in legal thought: the behavioral law and economics movement and liberal legal theory. Psychoanalysis joins up with but also importantly modifies the portrait of the individual drawn by these contemporary legal fields of knowledge. In relying on cognitive psychology, the behavioral law and economics movement remains wedded to the rationality paradigm, overlooking the complex dynamic workings of the unconscious and its resistance to any efforts to “debias” cognitive thinking. Relatedly, liberal legal accounts of the autonomous legal actor fail to recognize the conflicted, unstable, contingent dimension to selfhood. In alliance with more critical perspectives in feminism, critical race theory, and queer studies, a psychoanalytic perspective modifies the liberal ideal of the rational, autonomous individual by providing a thick description of the self and its relationship to the world. This chapter concludes the book by reiterating the vital relevance of psychoanalysis to law: how psychoanalysis offers the opportunity for a deep fruitful engagement between two disciplines—law and psychoanalysis—both engaged with the humanistic project of understanding how and why people think and behave the way they do.

Keywords:   Psychoanalysis, Psychology, Unconscious, Law, Freud, Behavioral law and economics, Cognitive psychology, Liberalism, Autonomy, Totem and Taboo

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