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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: 05 December 2021

Seduction and Empathy

Seduction and Empathy

(p.160) Five Seduction and Empathy
Cruel Attachments

John Borneman

University of Chicago Press

Empathic understanding, though generally considered a skill, may serve both of the two possible ends of seduction: it may lead to the ability to charm or it may lead to an exploitative enticement. Moreover, seduction is an essential part of humanization, necessary for the child to secure adult attention and care, and for the adult to keep the child’s attention despite growing autonomy needs. This chapter considers the dynamic of seduction, empathy, and abuse in light of the increased agency given to or assumed by the child and the expansion of the category child into and often through adolescence. It depicts this dynamic through the case of man who takes over many responsibilities for a single mother, after seducing her as a favor for a friend, and then molests her daughter. Finally, it highlights the radical change in the Oedipal dynamic over the last several centuries by comparing the experience of seduction and abuse in this case with that represented in the myth of Hansel and Gretel.

Keywords:   empathic understanding, ritual process, biography, seduction, sex abuse, introspection, myth, introspection, fairy tale, molestation

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