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Corbett, K. (2013). Break the Circle: Bullying Fantasies, Normative Regulation, and The Ghost of Melancholy. Psychoanal. Inq., 33(2):166-173.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 33(2):166-173


Break the Circle: Bullying Fantasies, Normative Regulation, and The Ghost of Melancholy

Ken Corbett, Ph.D.

With this set of articles, we move from the bully to bullying. We move from the individual to a process. We move from a category to a system. Guided by Twemlow's (this issue) succinct proposition that “bullying is a process, not a person”, the analyses in this set of articles focus on how bully/bullied/bystander roles circulate and corecreate the system of bullying. The authors work with ideas about structures and how those structures constitute individual actors. Reflecting their interest in structure and process, these authors frequently chart their efforts to promote consciousness about the systemic work of bullying. In fact, such efforts constitute the principal therapeutic action described by several of the analysts writing here.

These moves are made in the broad tradition of humanism. Ethical reflection promotes and follows upon psychoanalytic considerations and therapeutic modes of recognition. These considerations lead to calls for social justice. Through shared beliefs about interhuman morality and community, these authors establish and promote plans for social action in the face of bullying. They take action by describing hate's circulation and perpetuation. They take action through institutional and school-based interventions. They take action through their efforts to aid their patients in seeking social and interpersonal redress for bullying.

In this blend of psychoanalytic practice and social action, we have an interesting opportunity to observe the promotion of a rational ethics, not only through the work of cognition, but also through the investigation of the ways in which the irrational can undo ethical response. These writers chart the circling inter-subjective processes of bullying, along with questioning how bullying crafts an irrational mind.

I aim to elaborate on these considerations of bullying, and to do so by highlighting the constituting force of normative regulation. I begin by detailing how the authors of these articles record the kinds of fantasies that are manifest and secured through bullying.

[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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