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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

Incest, the Child, and the Despotic Father

Incest, the Child, and the Despotic Father

(p.96) Two Incest, the Child, and the Despotic Father
Cruel Attachments

John Borneman

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines two paradigmatic cases in which real incest is brought into the penumbra of law and subsumed into an imaginary complex superimposed on sexual abuse. It uses the cases to theorize at a higher level of abstraction about the deployment of myth by the unconscious, the relation between taboo and law, male and female attachments to the child, gender conflict, and changes in the position of the father in the symbolic order of the West. One case focuses on how a child victim translates what had happened into the therapeutic and legal languages of sexual abuse, the other on the father’s evolving apprehension of his deed in the course of therapy. The chapter concludes that (1) the incest taboo increasingly regulates lineal rather than lateral relations between kin; (2) the imaginary complex construes male sexuality as a security threat to children, resulting in a negative identification with and of male difference, with serious consequences for the family, the heterosexual couple, and the mother-child bond; and (3) the erosion of the incest taboo, and of the authority of the father who was its guarantor, opens up alternative modalities to regulate relations between generations and genders.

Keywords:   sex offender, incest, crime, evidence, unconscious, child protection, incest, symbolization, masculinity, attachment

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