Humans alone have a passion for sacrifice. They have not only sacrificed animals upon an altar as an offering to their Gods, but upon the same altar they have sacrificed their own life. That’s the case with the hypermoral man who sacrifices his desire, or with the martyr of terrorism, who gives his life for a cause. Sacrifice is an underlying phantasm that has spread across the Western world: living in sacrifice means obtaining an unlimited redemption (by God, by one’s own family, by the Other). In psychoanalysis, this is the paradoxical law of the Superego: sacrifice is not just renunciation of gratification. It is a phantasm stemming from the guilt-creating mindset of Christianity. Psychoanalysis, following the deepest message of Jesus, is committed to setting our lives free from the burden of sacrifice. This entails a different understanding of Law: man is not a slave of Law, because Law – as maintained by the Christian teachings – is made for man and not man for Law.
Massimo Recalcati, one of the best reputed psychoanalysts in Italy, is a member analyst of the Italian Lacanian Association of Psychoanalysis and teaches at the universities of Pavia and Verona. His numerous publications are translated into several languages.