Document Type

Article

Comments

Psychoanalysis and Jurisprudence, 77 Yale Law Journal 1053 (1968)

Abstract

Psychoanalysis endeavors to provide a systematic theory of human behavior. Law, both as a body of substantive decisions and as a process for decisionmaking, has been created by man to regulate the behavior of man. Psychoanalysis seeks to understand the workings of the mind. Law is mind-of-man-made. There is in law, as psychoanalysis teaches that there is in individual man, a rich residue which each generation preserves from the past, modifies for the present, and leaves for the future. An initial, though tentative assumption that one discipline is relevant to the other seems therefore warranted. The congruence of their concern for man, his mind, his behavior, and his environment may justify this assertion of mutual relevance. But it does nothing to demarcate the potential use and potential limits of psychoanalysis as an aid to understanding the meaning and function of law. This essay explores some of the contributions psychoanalytic theory may make to jurisprudence and, perhaps more significantly, seeks to locate and examine the boundaries which mark the potential area of any such contribution.

Though law is stereotypically perceived as being concerned with an external image of man, and psychoanalysis with his internal image, each discipline is in fact concerned with both faces of man. While legal training, practice, and research concentrate primarily on man's external world, the substance and process of law depend heavily on assumptions about man's internal world. While psychoanalytic training, practice and research focus primarily on an internal view of man, the theory and therapy of psychoanalysis have always had an ear and an eye to outer reality—and increasingly so with the development of genetic and adaptive vantage points in metapsychology. Both disciplines then must cross common intellectual territory. Lawyers, for example, may ask of law in terms of its social control function what psychoanalysts might ask of man in terms of his adaptive capacities: "To what extent are internal mechanisms of control reflected in and affected by the development of external controls?"

Date of Authorship for this Version

1968

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