Daniela Peruzzo

The Victim, The Saviour and The Persecutor in Discourses on Refugees in Italy: A Jungian Informed Discourse Analysis on The Diciotti Case in Italy

Since the mid-1990s a growing interest for the part taken by the affect in social dynamics has been rising among scholars from humanities, social sciences and related fields, so much to talk about an “affective turn” (Clough, 2007).

Psychoanalysis has been addressed as a valid tool to explore the interplay between social actors and public dimension, without neglecting the role of the affect. The notion of unconscious has been seen as a useful concept to help sociologists focusing on the irrational nature of people’s emotional life (Craib,1989, p.2), and to investigate complex social dilemmas as the ubiquity and the visceral element of racism (Clark, 2003).

Also, in the framework of discourse analysis psychoanalytical informed methods have been developed. However, they are all based on Freudian or post-Freudian theoretical models, drawing on the ideas of Melany Klein or Lacan.

In this contribution, I will first, claim that analytic psychology is particularly well-positioned to understand the complex interface between individuals and the social world, thanks to the central role played by culture in Jung’s conception of psychic life.

Second, following Miller (2011) I will show how Foucauldian discourse analysis and Jung’s idea of the complex, can be fruitfully integrated to respond to some issues left unresolved by Foucault. Foucault ‘s theory, indeed, accounts for how discourses affect and create individuals who exist within them, but it does not provide us “with an understanding of how and why particular discourses are ‘taken up’ by some subjects and not by others or how a subject produced through disciplinary discursive practices can resist power” (Barker&Galanski,2001, p.31 in Miller, p.191). Foucauldian approach and discourse theory in general, indeed, “comes to the boundary of the subject and the issue of agency”, but they do not include any subject except for the one produced by history. As noted by Miller though (2011) agency should be “understood as the capacity to act” (Miller, p.189), rather than as “the self-originating transcendental subject of phenomenology” (Barker&Galanski,2001).

The notion of the complex as “an agglomerate of the actions of several archetypal patterns, imbued with personal experience and affect” (Samuels, 1985/1994, p.47) can help responding to these questions. On the one hand, it accounts for the role of the affect and the agency. On the other, which is grounded in the notion of archetype, it does not neglect the social and cultural forces which shape the a priori network of signs, concepts and values which mediate the relationship of consciousness with the social environment in a post-structuralist view.

Finally, building on Papadopoulos’s (2021) theory on the Drama Triangle, a typical set of interactional relationships that are enacted by people when victimisation takes place trauma and that push people to assume the stereotypical roles of the Victim, the Persecutor and the Rescuer, I will analyse the discourse on refugees in the “Diciotti case”. This case involved 190 refugees blocked on the Italian patrol boat Ubaldo Diciotti off the coast of Lampedusa by decision of the former Minister of the Interior Matteo Sal


Daniela Peruzzo, is a PhD candidate at the University of Essex, - Psychoanalytic and Psychosocial Department. Her thesis, supervised by Prof. Renos Papadopoulos, investigates the construction of refugees’ identities in the discourses on the Dictiotti case, in Italy in a Jungian perspective.

Also, since January 2020 Daniela teaches to undergraduate students as Assistant Lecturer the module - The Unconscious: Analytical Psychology, Culture and Society – Jung, while since October 2018 she gives seminars on social research methods in the Department of Sociology at Essex University.


© 2022–2023, Jung Institute