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Dailey, A.C. (2007). Preface. Am. Imago, 64(3):291-295.

(2007). American Imago, 64(3):291-295


Anne C. Dailey

Psychoanalysis has been a presence in legal thinking for over seventy years. Nevertheless, the history of the relations between the fields of law and psychoanalysis is fraught with ambiguity. Each discipline has had its internal controversies, while the interaction of the two has produced a distinctive set of accomplishments and setbacks. Yet despite the historiographic challenges, the convergence of law and psychoanalysis is clearly demarcated by the publication of two works, one that called the field into being in 1930, and another that ushered it into relative dormancy in the 1960s. The publication of this special issue of American Imago may well mark a third such defining moment to the extent it portends a renewal of earlier scholarly aspirations for the broad investigation of psychoanalytic ideas about human nature and their relevance to law.

The seminal event for law and psychoanalysis was the publication in 1930 of Jerome Frank's widely read book, Law and the Modern Mind, in which he called attention to the unconscious and irrational influences that permeated judicial decision-making. This was a distinguished beginning for the field of law and psychoanalysis. Frank was a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, a member of the Yale Law School faculty, and a leading figure in early twentieth-century legal thought. He became interested in psychoanalysis after he underwent six months of treatment with the New York analyst Bernard Glueck (Brickner 1987). Frank's influence on legal thinking was profound. His book “fell like a bomb on the legal world,” as one commentator remarked, and opened the door to decades of psychoanalytic inquiry by his followers (Verdun-Jones 1974, 184).

These decades witnessed the application of psychoanalysis to a wide range of legal subjects, including criminal law, mental health law, child custody law, and jurisprudence.

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