Inflicting pain is a serious matter, often at variance with cherished values such as kindness and forgiveness. Attempts might therefore be made to hide the basic character of the activity, or to give various "scientific" reasons for inflicting pain. Such attempts are systematically described in this book, and related to social conditions. None of these attempts to cope with pain seem to be quite satisfactory. It is as if societies in their struggle with penal theories oscillate between attempts to solve an insoluble dilemma.
Punishment is used less in some systems than in others. On the basis of examples from systems where pain is rarely inflicted, some general conditions for a low level of pain infliction are formulated. The standpoint is that if pain is to be applied, this should be done without a manipulative purpose and in a social form resembling that which is normal when people are in deep sorrow.
Most of the material is from Scandinavia, but the book draws extensively on the crime control debate in the United Kingdom and USA.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"Christie's insights in Limits to Pain are as relevant today as they were when the book was originally published in 1982. I am delighted that it is now being reissued."
from the foreword by Howard Zehr, author of Changing Lenses
Nils Christie is professor of Criminology, Faculty of Law, at the University of Oslo, Norway. He is the author of thirteen books, mostly on crime and crime control, but also on education, drug control, and alternative communities. His most recent book is A Suitable Amount of Crime (Routledge, 2004), which is out in 13 languages.