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Cruel AttachmentsThe Ritual Rehab of Child Molesters in Germany$
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John Borneman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226233888

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226234076.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021



(p.1) Prolegomenon
Cruel Attachments

John Borneman

University of Chicago Press

The prolegomenon depicts the relation between a therapist and his client, who was sexually abused by his mother from the age of six and one-half to fourteen, became one of Berlin’s leading pimps, and, after serving 8 years in prison, founded a charity devoted to sexually abused children. The anthropologist accompanies the two men as they do public readings of a book the therapist wrote about the client’s life and self-transformation. And he explores the basis for therapeutic empathy in their relations with mothers, fathers, and their own pasts. What kind of intervention was he, an American anthropologist, observing in this public reading of the personal reflections from someone’s therapy? What kind of treatment is this, where the private details of the patient’s life are discussed in public and justified as having positive therapeutic effects on his wellbeing? Does presenting the story of the client’s abuse by his mother in public constitute a form of atonement for his pimping, facilitating his goal of Wiedergutmachung: making amends for his past, modifying his hate of women, transforming his self, and protecting children from a fate such as his. And what are we to make of the alleged psychic change of this man?

Keywords:   pimp, mothers, Public Sphere, recidivism, imprisonment, ethnography, rehabilitation, authenticity, prostitution, psychic change

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