Reference : L’acte incendiaire, son sujet et sa signification : propositions à partir du Saint Ge...
Scientific journals : Article
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Treatment & clinical psychology
L’acte incendiaire, son sujet et sa signification : propositions à partir du Saint Genet de Jean-Paul Sartre
[en] Arson and meaning: proposals from Saint Genet by Jean-Paul Sartre
Englebert, Jérôme mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département Psychologies et cliniques des systèmes humains > > >]
Annales Médico-Psychologiques
Yes (verified by ORBi)
[en] Arson ; Arsonist ; Fire setter ; Pyromania ; Sense ; Meaning ; Act ; Hermeneutic ; Phenomenology
[fr] Incendiaire ; Pyromanie ; Sens ; Signification ; Acte ; Herméneutique ; Phénoménologie
[en] Objectives
In this paper we studied fire setters with the hermeneutics’ method from the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. In the psychobiography of Jean Genet, the philosopher raises issues of the infractional acting and its social meaning.

After recalling the basic notions of international literature about fire setters (including confusion with pyromania, diagnostic problems proposed by the DSM IV and the concept of "communicative arson"), we propose phenomenological and existential clues to discuss the act and its meaning. It is the unlawful act that is analysed and more specifically the arson. We propose different analysis than the psychic causality which is inspired by psychoanalysis. The criminogenesis gives way to a questioning of identity, about the place of fire in the subject’s history and within its relationships to others. As proposed by Sartre, the paradigm of this research is to consider the meaning "as the return of the future in the present".
The second field of this study is an analysis of three clinical cases. These cases are the result of a forensic practice. The method is focused on the analysis of a narrative and autobiographical production. By this way we studied the temporal process of these three arsonists.

A comparative reading of the psychobiography of Jean Genet written by Sartre and of the situation of arsonists gives accurate information. The "criminogenesis" gives way to a questioning of identity. In this way we discuss the meaning of fire in the subject's history and within its relationship to others. We highlight the inscription of the act in the social and constitutive process of the individual.
From the clinical material, the author demonstrates a link between arson and construction of identity. Identity is considered as a dialectic between “ipse” and “idem”, as suggested by Ricœur. We can therefore consider the real sense that the arson has from the perspective of the actor but also from the viewpoint of the society and these conceptions may be similar or different. In clinical practice, we recommend to pay special attention to how the fire is part of the biography of the patient.

The fascination for fire is a source of meaning which can be radically different depending on whether we consider the external interpreter (the world or the clinician) or the author of the action.
The basic principles of hermeneutics, as described by Gadamer and Ricœur, are to demonstrate that the understanding and the interpretation are not only the methods used in the human sciences but are also part of the fundamental processes inherent in human nature.
Hermeneutics in general is the opposite of a doctrine of truth. It rather seeks to show arbitrarily how the interpretation and the search for meaning are paradigmatic of the human experience.
[fr] Dans cet article, nous étudions l’acte incendiaire selon une méthode que nous empruntons à la philosophie de Jean-Paul Sartre. Dans la psychobiographie qu’il consacre à Jean Genet, il pose les questions de l’herméneutique de l’acte infractionnel et de sa signification sociale. Après un rappel des notions essentielles de la littérature internationale concernant les incendiaires (et notamment les confusions avec la pyromanie), nous proposons des pistes phénoménologiques et existentielles pour discuter de l’acte infractionnel (ici en particulier celui de mettre le feu) en dehors du causalisme psychique inspiré de la psychanalyse. La « criminogenèse » laisse ici place à une interrogation identitaire dans laquelle nous discutons de la place que prend le feu dans l’histoire en devenir du sujet et dans ses relations à autrui.

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