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    Thinking about denial

    Hall, C. and Pick, Daniel (2017) Thinking about denial. History Workshop Journal 84 , pp. 1-23. ISSN 1363-3554.

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    This essay notes the frequent and varied uses of ‘denial’ in modern political discourse, suggests the specific psychoanalytic meanings the term has acquired and asks how useful such Freudian concept may be for historians. It notes the long and vexed debates that have occurred over the uses of psychoanalysis in historiography, before comparing and contrasting ‘denial’ with other terms that have particular psychoanalytic inflections, such as ‘disavowal’, ‘splitting’ and ‘negation’. The authors dwell, especially, on ‘disavowal’ and argue it may, sometimes provide a particularly useful basis for exploring how and why states of knowing and not knowing co-exist, in individuals and groups. This account also provide particular historical examples: most briefly, a fragment from a report about the war criminals, produced by an American psychiatrist at the Nuremberg Trial; at greater length, the political arguments and historical writings of an eighteenth-century slave owner; and finally, a case in a borough of London in the late-twentieth-century London, where the neglect, abuse and murder of a child was shockingly ‘missed’ by a succession of social agencies and individuals, who had evidence of the violence available to them. The essay refers more briefly to various more recent discussions, of denial and associated, relevant terms in the work of psychoanalysts, psychologists, and social theorists.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication following peer review. The version of record is available online at the link above.
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Daniel Pick
    Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2017 11:56
    Last Modified: 04 Jul 2022 12:24


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