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Criminal Interrogations: A Lacanian Perspective (From Policing in Central and Eastern Europe: Dilemmas of Contemporary Criminal Justice, P 432-439, 2004, Gorazd Mesko, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-207973)

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2004
8 pages

This paper offers an alternative understanding of the ego as currently assumed in criminal interrogation practices, based in the theory of ego proposed by Jacques Lacan.


The paper first identifies two broad types of subjects who react differently when interrogated. They are "emotional" offenders who respond well to a "sympathetic approach," and "nonemotional" offenders, who are resistant to emotional investment and tend to remain psychologically aloof. Since this type of offender poses significant challenges for the interrogator, this paper elaborates on the psychological composition of this type of offender. The profiling of the two broad types of subjects for interrogation is followed by a description of the psychoanalytic theory of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. For Lacan, the ego is deceptive, fictional, alienating, and distorting, as it constructs false images of the self and how the self is viewed by others. The paper then suggests interrogation techniques that can be used with the "emotional" and "nonemotional" subject, such that the interrogation strategy places the subject in a psychological posture in which the crime is admitted in order to fulfill the urge to manifest to the interrogator the subject's sense of self as revealed in the criminal behavior. 15 references

Date Published: September 1, 2004