DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-94090-8_4">

Psychological jurisprudence and the relational problems of de-vitalisation and finalisation: Revisiting the society of captives thesis

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Book Chapter

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Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Publication Title

Mental health in prisons: Critical perspectives on treatment and confinement


This chapter describes the relational problems of de-vitalisation and finalisation guided by the socio-cultural insights of Psychological Jurisprudence (PJ). De-vitalisation and finalisation are non-reflexive states of human relatedness in which reciprocal consciousness, inter-subjectivity, and mutual power are neutralised (i.e. forestalled and/or foreclosed). These neutralisations function to limit and/or to deny the project of shared struggle and the experiences of collective overcoming. The chapter asserts that this project and these experiences are necessary ontological and epistemological conditions for interdependent human flourishing to occur, including the becoming of human justice (as restorative and transformative) for a people yet to be. The chapter explains how the excess forms of de-vitalisation (e.g., limits on relational being, harms of reduction, and bad faith) and the excess forms of finalisation (e.g., denials of relational becoming, harms of repression, and negative freedom) nurture a society of captives. This is the ontological and epistemological captivity of the kept and those who keep, manage, observe, treat, and/or inspect them. The ubiquity of this captivity is made evident in the relations of humanness that populate this society. The chapter proposes how these relations—derived mostly from the deficit and desistance models of offender therapy, recovery, and reentry—are totalising (i.e. socio-culturally harm-generating and injury-producing) in their iterative effects on reciprocal consciousness, subjectivity, and power. Maintaining or cultivating these de-vitalising and finalising relations of humanness is an exercise in co-productive madness. Examples from the mental health and prison literatures suggestively highlight the chapter’s central thesis.

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DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-94090-8_4

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