This paper focuses on the psychology of a neglected phenomenon—that of socially accepted violence. It offers a Lacanian informed model for the understanding of those who are granted with the authority to carry out particular forms of sanctioned violence—parents in relation to their authoritative role as agents of Law in the family. The paper discusses both the rite of circumcision and the biblical story of the Akedah as paradigmatic examples of socially accepted violence and builds on them to explore potential psychological configurations that parents may assume when they are socially expected to apply violence as part of their parental role. The paper concludes by applying the model on agents of law who choose to avoid or refuse the use of sanctioned violence, and with an emphasis on the role of social discourse and social conventions in the individual's psyche.
- Socially accepted violence