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MATHESON, Calum Lister

Summer 2018, 48.2, pages 187-206

Psychotic Discourse: The Rhetoric of the Sovereign Citizen Movement 

Abstract: Reactionary conservative groups such as the sovereign citizen movement are increasingly prominent—and violent—in the United States. These groups cohere around their own unique discourses of law, language, and history, which are often dismissed as meaningless, or even “crazy.” Following Jacques Lacan’s injunction that the analyst must “let the subject speak,” this essay will examine sovereign citizen rhetoric as a coherent, internally consistent field of meaning exhibiting the traits of psychotic discourse in which the metaphorical operation of the law-as-signifier is disavowed. Doing so illustrates not only the powerful intersection of communication and psychoanalysis but also the potential for a rhetorical reading to challenge the most violent collective psychoses.

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