Imprisonment and the Self

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  • Title: Imprisonment and the Self: Ideology, Power, and the Mechanisms of Control
  • Author(s): Damian J Terrill, Gwion Jones, Ben Ellis
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies
  • Keywords: Prison, Identity, Ideology, Power, Psychoanalysis
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2324-7576 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2324-7584 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2324-7576/CGP/v14i02/27-44
  • Citation: Terrill, Damian J, Gwion Jones, and Ben Ellis. 2019. "Imprisonment and the Self: Ideology, Power, and the Mechanisms of Control." The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies 14 (2): 27-44. doi:10.18848/2324-7576/CGP/v14i02/27-44.
  • Extent: 18 pages

Abstract

Contextualized within Her Majesty’s Prison Service (HMPS) and pursuing a top-down approach, this article is concerned with the structural-human interface and punitive-therapeutic dichotomies which underpin the power relations of imprisonment. The authors examine the implications of imprisonment through three distinct but interconnected domains: the structural (macro), the psycho-social (meso), and the intrapsychic (micro). Having outlined several ontological challenges concerning the function of imprisonment, the authors apply Althusserian theory at a structural level to define prisons as prominent yet ideologically ambiguous instruments of state authority. Thereafter, the views of Goffman and Sykes are aligned with psychoanalytic theory to shed light upon the psycho-social and intrapsychic obscurities of imprisonment. The discussion concludes with a brief overview of HMP Grendon as a model of “integrated therapeutic justice.” Theoretical in nature, this article supports the growing penological interest in psychoanalysis. It aims to inform practitioners and academics alike, while inspiring further dialogue.