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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Some Socio-Analytical Reflections on Vengeance and Revenge

The paper is guided by the working hypothesis that the psychoanalytic perspective on vengeance, primarily, if not exclusively, a dynamic of the inner world of the individual, does not sufficiently take into account the social understanding of vengeance, which has predominated in the history of mankind long before the advent of psychoanalysis. A socio-analytic perspective on vengeance makes use of the concept of binocular vision and the perspective of the Sphinx. Vengeance thus appears as a psychosocial phenomenon and dynamic that more often than not is caused by and affects both the individual actor(s) and the collective, i.e. the community or polis of related people. Vengeance in social (political and economic) contexts often leads to strategies through which its underlying feelings must be hidden behind an apparent logic of rationality. Aggressive and annihilating desires and actions are concealed behind such pursuits as justice and competition, and the illusion is sustained that in contrast to our ancestors we live in an age free of violence. The question that presents itself is how are feelings and actions related to revenge and vengeance actually contained, maintained and digested and how are they expressed individually, organizationally, societally and economically. In the last section we explore the relatedness of vengeance and economy.