From class origins to individual psychopathology: Spousal murder according to state socialist Czechoslovak criminology

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in History of the Human Sciences: “From class origins to individual psychopathology: Spousal murder according to state socialist Czechoslovak criminology,” Kate?ina Lišková, Lucia Moravanská. Abstract:

Over the course of 40 years of state socialism, the explanation that Czechoslovak criminologists gave for spousal murder changed significantly. Initially attributing offences to the perpetrator’s class origins, remnants of his bourgeois way of life, and the lack of positive influence from the collective in the long 1950s, criminologists then refocused their attention solely on the individual’s psychopathology during the period known as ‘Normalization’, which encompassed the last two decades of state socialism. Based on an analysis of archival sources, including scholarly journals and expert reports, and following Ian Hacking’s insight that ‘kinds of people come into being’ through the realignment of systems of knowledge, this article shows how new kinds of spousal murderer emerged as a result of shifting criminological expertise. We explain the change as the result of the psychiatrization of criminology that occurred in Czechoslovakia at a time when the regime needed to consolidate after the upheavals of the Prague Spring of 1968. The criminological framing of spousal murder as belonging squarely in the individualized realm of the private sphere reflected the contemporaneous effort of the regime to enclose the private as a sphere of relative state non-interference.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.

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