Radical Revenge: Shame, Blame and the Urge for Retaliation

Renée Danziger



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Despite its ubiquity, revenge is a surprisingly understudied subject. We’re all familiar with the urge for payback, but where does that urge come from? Why is it so hard to give up? And why can some people only satisfy it through extreme and brutal acts? This book addresses these questions, and by developing the concept of radical revenge it gives some meaning to what might otherwise appear to be senseless acts of violence. 


The author explores some of the most egregious examples of radical revenge in contemporary society, including mass shootings, internet trolling, revenge porn, and contemporary populist politics. Drawing on psychoanalytic ideas about shame, envy and thin-skinned narcissism, she discusses why some people feel compelled to engage in these sorts of destructive acts of radical revenge. She looks too at examples such as the work of Artemisia Gentileschi and David Holthouse, to show that in exceptional cases, revenge can be an act of creativity rather than destruction.

Renee Danziger is a psychoanalyst in private practice. She is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society, and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at UCL. Born in the U.S., she has lived in the U.K. most of her life. She was educated at Manchester University, London School of Economics, and Oxford University where she earned a doctorate in political science.

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