How can psychoanalysis help us understand irrational actions and bad choices? Our legal system relies on the idea that people act reasonably and of their own free will, yet some still commit crimes with a high likelihood of being caught, sign obviously one-sided contracts, or violate their own moral codes-behavior many would call fundamentally irrational. Anne Dailey shows that a psychoanalytic perspective grounded in solid clinical work can bring the law into line with the reality of psychological experience. Approaching contemporary legal debates with fresh insights, this original and powerful critique sheds new light on issues of overriding social importance, including false confessions, sexual consent, threats of violence, and criminal responsibility. By challenging basic legal assumptions with a nuanced and humane perspective, Dailey shows how psychoanalysis can further our legal system's highest ideals of individual fairness and systemic justice.
Anne C. Dailey is Evangeline Starr Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut. She is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School and has published widely on issues relating to children, families, and psychoanalysis. She lives in New Haven, CT.