1 Danish School of Education - Research Programme on Diagnostics of Contemporary Education, Danish School of Education, Arts, Aarhus University2 Danish School of Education - Philosophy of Education, Emdrup, Danish School of Education, Arts, Aarhus University3 Danish School of Education - Philosophy of Education, Emdrup, Danish School of Education, Arts, Aarhus University
In 1991, Danish citizen Peter Lundin, resident in the USA, strangled his mother and buried her in the sand on a beach. Eight months later her body was found, and Lundin was apprehended and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released in 1999, and deported to Denmark. In 2000, he killed his girlfriend, Marianne Pedersen, and her two sons, Brian and Dennis. Their bodies were never found. According to forensic evidence, Lundin chopped them into small pieces, and has never confessed to how he disposed of the body parts. He was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment. A Danish journalist, Rikke Pedersen, is the ghost-writer of En Morders Bekendelser (‘A Murderer’s Confessions’), published in 2009. What follows is an analysis of this. There is nothing banal about the murders that Lundin committed. A murder is never banal. The ‘banality’ in the subtitle of this article is strictly reserved for Lundin’s image of himself, his strikingly overblown ego, his efforts to vindicate himself, and last but not least, his surprising lack of moral sense. But if banality is an appropriate description in this case, why would someone who is not a psychiatrist write about Lundin? It is the very banality that is puzzling, even intriguing. This is obviously inspired by Arendt’s The Banality of Evil. Eichmann in Jerusalem. Lundin is no Eichmann, though. His banality is of another caliber. The question is, how does Lundin form social bonds, how is his being in the world structured? How does he perceive the world in general and the other in particular? Who is the Other (the Lacanian ‘Other’) for Lundin, who makes it possible for him to be consistently exploitative, even parasitic, and why did he murder the women who were closest to him? Why did he murder women? The presentation of this case takes its point of departure in the question of the Other, that is, how the Other is positioned in relation to Lundin; is there an Other at all? The short answer is negative; this article provides the long answer, explaining why and how this might be the case. My contention is that psychosis is the structuring principle. Lundin’s confessions provide an opportunity to present, firstly, the sense in which the Lacanian clinical concept of ‘psychosis’ is a philosophical category, or equivalent to what Heidegger designates as ‘Eksistentialen’. These are categories that serve to describe formal conditions of possibilities of being in the world; in short, descriptions of existence. The fundamental point is that the clinical categories of psychoanalysis are also philosophical categories. Secondly, the confessions provide an opportunity to present the sense in which ‘the Other is foreclosed’ in psychosis.
Critical Engagements, 2014, Issue 8.1 + 8.2, p. 42-63