Subjects Without a World? An Husserlian Analysis of Solitary Confinement Theoretical / Philosophical Paper First Online: 28 June 2011 DOI:
10.1007/s10746-011-9182-0 Cite this article as: Guenther, L. Hum Stud (2011) 34: 257. doi:10.1007/s10746-011-9182-0 Abstract
Psychiatrist Stuart Grassian has proposed the term “SHU syndrome” to name the cluster of cognitive, perceptual and affective symptoms that commonly arise for inmates held in the Special Housing Units (SHU) of supermax prisons. In this paper, I analyze the harm of solitary confinement from a phenomenological perspective by drawing on Husserl’s account of the essential relation between consciousness, the experience of an alter ego and the sense of a real, Objective world. While Husserl’s prioritization of transcendental subjectivity over transcendental intersubjectivity underestimates the degree to which first-person consciousness is constitutively intertwined with the embodied consciousness of others, Husserl’s phenomenology nevertheless provides a fruitful starting-point for a philosophical engagement with the psychiatric research on solitary confinement.
Keywords Husserl Solitary confinement Supermax prisons Phenomenology References
Arrigo, B. A., & Bullock, J. L. (2008). The psychological effects of solitary confinement on prisoners in Supermax units: Reviewing what we know and recommending what should change.
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 52
, 6(December), 622–640.
Bonta, J., & Gendreau, P. (1990). Reexamining the cruel and unusual punishment of prison life.
Law and Human Behavior,
CrossRef Google Scholar
Dayan, C. (2005). Cruel and unusual: The end of the eighth amendment.
Boston Review: A Political and Literary Forum
. Accessed 22 September 2009.
Doyle, L. (2006). Bodies inside/out: Violation and resistance from the prison cell to
The Bluest Eye. In Dorothea, O., & Weiss G. (Ed.), Feminist interpretations of maurice merleau- ponty. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press.
Grassian, S. (1983). Psychopathological effects of solitary confinement.
American Journal of Psychiatry,
Grassian, S. (2006). Psychiatric effects of solitary confinement.
Journal of Law & Policy,
Haney, C. (2003). Mental health issues in long-term solitary and “supermax” confinement.
Crime & Delinquency,
CrossRef Google Scholar
Haney, C., & Lynch, M. (1997). Regulating prisons of the future: A psychological analysis of Supermax and solitary confinement.
New York University School of Law Review of Law and Social Change,
Hermberg, K. (2006).
Husserl’s phenomenology: Knowledge, objectivity and others. London: Continuum.
Heron, W., Doane, B. K., & Scott, T. H. (1956). Visual disturbances after prolonged perceptual isolation.
Canadian Journal of Psychology, 10
Husserl, Edmund. (1970).
The crisis of European sciences and transcendental phenomenology: An introduction to phenomenological philosophy (trans: Carr, D.). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Husserl, Edmund. (1973).
Zur Phänomenologie der Intersubjektivität: Texte aus dem Nachlass (Vol. 13–15). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
Husserl, Edmund. (1989).
Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy: Second Book: Studies in the phenomenology of constitution (trans: Rojcewicz, R. & Schuwer, A.). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Husserl, Edmund. (1991).
Cartesian meditations: An introduction to phenomenology [CM] (trans: Cairns, D.). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Kupers, T. (1999).
Prison madness: The mental health crisis behind bars and what we must do about it
. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Merleau-Ponty, M. (1986).
Phenomenology of perception (Trans. C. Smith). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Sumell, J., & Wallace,H. (2006).
The house that herman built. Stuttgart: Merz & Solitude. Copyright information
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011