Instructor(s): Abraham Drassinower

For graduate students, the course number is LAW7112H.

The centrality of law in the structuring and regulation of relations between persons is the focus of most, if not all, legal thought and practice. Some might say that, by definition, law is nothing but an ordering of external relations. This course will seek to explore the far less familiar terrain involving the role of law in the structuring and regulation of internal relations within persons. Must law merely presuppose as given the legal personality it regulates? Is law, on the contrary, an essential participant in the formation and preservation of that personality? What is the relation between legal order and psychic order? In what ways do legal order and disorder encounter, produce and sustain psychic order and disorder? In what ways, if any at all, do the analyses of law and psyche complement and enrich each other?

The course will explore this terrain through the examination of literary, psychoanalytic, philosophical, and legal texts and materials. Topics to be examined may include the concept of consent under mental health law; the distinction between involuntary admission and incarceration, treatment and punishment, hospitals and prisons; the vicissitudes of the mentally ill in everyday encounters with the mental health system and the police. In addition to mental health legislation and related jurisprudential materials and commentary, texts to be examined may include Franz Kafkas The Metamorphosis and The Penal Colony; Sigmund Freuds Civilization and Its Discontents, and Michel Foucaults Madness and Civilization: The Birth of the Asylum.

Six comments (250-300 words each) on assigned readings (10%); a final 5,000 6,000 word paper (80%); class attendance and class participation (10%).

At a Glance

Second Term
Perspective course


13 JD


Th: 10:30 - 12:20