Chapter

Torture and Society

Reinhold Görling

in Speaking about Torture

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242245
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242283 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823242245.003.0004
Torture and Society

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Claiming that torture is a phenomenon specific to societies rather than to human individuals or other forms of life, this chapter analyzes the psycho-social consequences of torture as a practice that denies to some of its members the protection against human vulnerability that is constitutive of society. Drawing on D. W. Winnicott's location of cultural experience in games of recognition, it claims that the tendency of culture to perform sociality in theatrical forms makes it possible to reverse this tendency and perform in torture the vulnerability and negation of sociality. Since denial of the other is also a theatrical act, it necessarily enlists a third party, or witness, who either resists the exclusion of the victim from the social bond orlooks away. Since the position of the third party now is increasingly occupied by the eye and ear of digital recording, the chapter describes the psychic structure of not-seeing that is produced by the paradoxical mediality of violence: that at once destroys the capacity for expression and lodges in the psyche, and group memory, more stubbornly.

Keywords: Recognition; Vulnerability; Witness; Theatricality; Splitting; D. W. Winnicott; Peter Fonagy

Chapter.  4126 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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