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Peskin, H. (2012). “Man Is a Wolf to Man”: Disorders of Dehumanization in Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 22(2):190-205.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 22(2):190-205

“Man Is a Wolf to Man”: Disorders of Dehumanization in Psychoanalysis

Harvey Peskin, Ph.D.

A key component of dehumanization is the loss of personal credibility experienced by victims whose trauma and abuse have gone unwitnessed or unconfirmed. The scant or doubtful attention to victimization in orthodox psychoanalytic theory, where the late introduction of the destructive instinct favored analysis of the predator, has only underscored the victim's anonymity—a conspicuous shortcoming in our time of genocide and crimes against humanity. Yet victimization, as illustrated in this paper's case material, reveals relational conflict as compelling as classical intrapsychic conflict: between urges to keep silent or to speak and between concealment and habituation to human abandonment or reparative search for witness. What therapeutic neutrality is to psychic reality, therapeutic witness is to the recovery of social reality and one's right to live in it.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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